5 players who have a lot to prove against Georgia this weekend
Ireland is blessed with an array of rugby talent at the moment and this has never been clearer than when Joe Schmidt announced 13 changes to his starting team for the second game of the Guinness series against Georgia.
Just two players remain in the team from the side that magnificently defeated South Africa on Saturday, wth Simon Zebo taking his spot on the wing and Mike Ross lining up at tighthead prop.
With so many changes in any team it may take them a little while to get going on Sunday and there will be no shortage of experience with Eoin Reddan, Gordan D’Arcy and the aforementioned Mike Ross in the team.
There are two new caps in the form of Munster lock Dave Foley who has been impressive for Munster this season and Dominic Ryan who is really making use of an extended injury free run to gain his first international cap.
While some attending the game may be disappointed that the likes of Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray and Paul O’Connell won’t be taking the field, they could be in for a rip-roaring performance from the Irish as the players who are given their opportunity will be looking to put in strong performances and influence Joe Schmidt’s selection for next week’s game against Australia.
But who has the most to prove for the Irish? Have a read below to find out…
Craig Gilroy. . .
The flying Ulster winger last played for Ireland during a 2013 Six Nations defeat to Italy, a game that proved to be the last of coach Declan Kidney’s tenure. Having burst onto the international team in November 2012 with a brace of tries against Fiji and then scoring on his second appearance against Argentina, big things were expected of him.
Video via The UAFC.
But after a difficult Six Nations for the Irish team in 2013 and a raft of injuries, he has failed to add to the five international caps he won under Declan Kidney. He is back fighting fit now but he is a long way back in the pecking order with Schmidt currently favouring Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Simon Zebo, Fergus McFadden, and Dave Kearney ahead of the Ulster man.
Eoin Reddan. . .
The former Wasps and current Leinster scrum-half has lost out as first choice scrum-half due to the current brilliance and rapid development of Conor Murray. But Reddan will be keen to show that he is not just a player to be brought on in the closing minutes when the other team is tiring. He, like every other player in the squad, want to be first choice.
He produced some wonderful performances for Leinster last season with the pick of them being the away win against Northampton, where he was superb delivering quick ball throughout and scoring a try. He is a different type of player to Conor Murray but he will be aiming to show that he isn’t an inferior player.
Dominic Ryan. . .
Ryan announced himself to rugby fans with two tries against Saracens in the Heineken Cup all the way back in the 2010/2011 season. He showed huge potential in a series of games that season but he has had cruel luck with injuries ever since meaning his progress has stalled somewhat.
Video via Habi Aftabi.
The Leinster man has been immense so far this season in the absence of Sean O’Brien, and while he doesn’t offer the same ball carrying, he is still an excellent player. Just look at his hit on CJ Stander above, although he does foolishly give away a penalty immediately after. He would surely have made his debut before this if not for a few injuries and his priority will be making up for lost time when he makes his debut on Sunday.
Dave Kilcoyne. . .
‘Killer’ has been on the periphery for the last year or two in the Ireland squad and his frustration must have been growing up to this point. During the 2013 Six Nations, he was second choice to Cian Healy but when Healy was injured, Tom Court was parachuted into the first team ahead of him.
For the last season, the development of Jack McGrath at Leinster has limited his chances with Ireland and indeed James Cronin at Munster has threatened his starting place down there as well. But he is first choice and playing well and now is his time to establish himself as back up to Cian Healy.
Ian Madigan. . .
What is there left to say about this man? The debate has been going on ever since Jonathan Sexton went off to France, is Madigan the man to step up to international level or is he too flaky to ever really cement his place. JOE thinks that he is one of the most exciting players in the country on his day, and his step and fend both being huge strengths. He keeps the defence honest and drags in defenders.
Video via Rugbydump.
Is he the man to lead Ireland to victory in the closing minutes of a tight game? Or does he throw a risky pass once too often? He will hope to answer them questions this weekend…