Ireland vs. Romania: Andy Farrell goes with several big guns for World Cup opener
Ireland get their World Cup adventure underway this Saturday (2:30pm kick-off).
Andy Farrell has mixed it up with his Ireland team to face Romania, selecting a number of frontliners yet giving some fringe players a chance to impress.
Having last played in Ireland's Grand Slam-clinching win over England, back in March, captain Johnny Sexton will be involved, and is likely to be paired with old Leinster teammate Jamison Gibson-Park. Rónan Kelleher is also set to feature in what would be his first game of the 2023/24 season, albeit off the bench. Here is that full match-day 23:
IRELAND TEAM TO FACE ROMANIA
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD)(31)
14. Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster)(100)
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD)(52)
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians)(47)
11. James Lowe (Leinster)(21)
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College)(captain)(113)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster)(26)
1. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD)(54)
2. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch)(37)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf)(67)
4. Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin University)(3)
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD)(55)
6. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne)(41)
7. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution)(96)
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College)(31)
16. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne), 17. Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen), 18. Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch), 19. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy), 20. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD), 21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen), 22. Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution), 23. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers)(65)
Paul O'Connell praises Ireland players
Ahead of Saturday's World Cup opener in Bordeaux, forwards coach Paul O'Connell spoke with the press about what could possibly give this Ireland team the edge.
“I think it’s a better Irish team," he told reporters. "Physically, a lot of us were incredibly committed, but these guys – there’s some serious athletes in the team, particularly in the forward pack. Guys that can accelerate quickly, they can change direction really quick."
"We’ve players that are able to figure things out really quickly. We can come up with something and they will adapt it to their game quickly. That’s the biggest thing I’ve found since I’ve come back into the Irish set-up two years ago, the smarts of the players is a real strength of theirs.
"They’re further down the track than any Irish team I played in, for sure."
Ireland take on Romania at Matmut Stadium in Bordeaux from 2:30pm on Saturday, September 9.
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL ON FIRST CALL-UPS AND CAREER HIGHS:
- Jack Crowley not letting Ross Byrne out of his sights, as Cian Prendergast books World Cup ticket
- Dan Sheehan gives positive injury update ahead of Rugby World Cup as Ireland team collect 'bagful' of kit
- Roy Keane cracks jokes with Johnny Sexton and Andy Farrell at Ireland training camp
- Paul O'Connell on his most treasured jersey swap and toughest opponent
- Tommy Bowe backs Jack Crowley as World Cup 'deputy' to Johnny Sexton