Ireland's starting team to face Canada: Joe Schmidt to give young guns a chance
Published 10/11/2016 | 02:30
Joe Schmidt is set to dish out a string of new caps this afternoon when he unveils the Irish side to face Canada with two of them, Leinster centre Garry Ringrose and Munster lock Billy Holland, primed to start Saturday's Guinness November series game at the Aviva Stadium.
The total of new caps could rise to six as there may be up to four debutants numbered on the bench, including Connacht wing Niyi Adeolokun, Leinster pack pair James Tracy (hooker) and Dan Leavy (back-row), as well as Munster's in-form tighthead prop John Ryan.
Schmidt is likely to resist the temptation to begin with any of those who started the historic Chicago win against the All Blacks, although Josh van der Flier, who replaced the injured Jordi Murphy in the first half at Soldier Field, will get another chance to shine in the competitive back-row.
He will be joined by both Seán O'Brien and likely captain Peter O'Mahony, who are chomping at the bit after lengthy injury absences having not featured for their country for nine and 13 months respectively.
The redoubtable Jamie Heaslip may, however, start if Schmidt decides to opt for at least one of the historic Chicago contingent.
Paddy Jackson will get a chance after missing out last week but Joey Carbery remains firmly in contention to back up Jonathan Sexton for the eagerly-anticipated rematch with the world champions in nine days' time.
Meanwhile, former Ulster coach Mark Anscombe, now in charge of Canada, has claimed that there was an agenda behind his sudden dismissal from the northern province in 2014.
"It leaves a sour taste, I had a good relationship with the players, we were doing well," he said.
"And then it is just small-minded individuals who have got their own agenda made it happen. It's the ugly side of the game and it happens."
Possible Ireland team (v Canada) - T O'Halloran; K Earls, G Ringrose, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, K Marmion; C Healy, S Cronin, F Bealham; U Dillane, B Holland; P O'Mahony, J van der Flier, S O'Brien.
Replacements: J Tracy, D Kilcoyne, J Ryan, I Henderson, D Leavy, L McGrath, J Carbery.