As the 2019 World Cup roars into view for all 20 competing nations who are beginning to sharpen up their preparations with Fiji beating the Maori All Blacks in Suva last night other sides like the Rugby Championship sides will commence a shortened version of the annual championship with all teams playing only 3 rounds before the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Ireland for their part are in camp in Limerick from Monday based in Munster’s high performance centre in UL. They will hold an open training session in Thomond Park next Friday. They have just spent the last few days in Galway while also holding two earlier camps in Carton House. They will face Italy, England and Wales in World Cup warm up games before departing for Japan to begin against Scotland on September 22nd.
Jonathan Sexton sustained a thumb last week injury that will see him on reduced training for between 4 and 6 weeks. This will give men like Joey Carbery, Jack Carty and Ross Byrne the chance to shine to push their selection prospects. It will be very interesting to see what way Schmidt will break his 45 man squad down to 31 where he will cut 14 names in the coming weeks but many will get the chance to shine against Italy on August 10th in Dublin.
This for most will be there one real shot unless Schmidt decides to delay naming his 31 man squad until closer to departure time. The addition of Will Addison after only a few weeks of pre season with Ulster says that Addison is in a strong position to travel like Conor Murray in 2011 and Tadgh Furlong in 2015.
The breakdown of the squad may only see two out halves named with three scrum halves or flip that on its head where Joey Carbery could easily cover the 9 shirt if Schmidt and his coaches went slightly differently in terms of selection. The time is now for all 45 players because all 45 will feel they can break into the final 31.
Next week in another chance for the whole squad to show what they can do in the surroundings of UL and Thomond Park. It will be an interesting few days in Limerick. They is only 69 days between now and the kick off of the World Cup for Ireland in Japan and we can finally see can Ireland break the quarter final hoodoo… 69 days and counting…..