Deans promising Ireland some headaches
Ireland will face a number of familiar faces when they take on the Barbarians at Thomond Park tomorrow night and coach Robbie Deans is promising his side will cause the Six Nations champions some fresh problems.
Leinster's retiring flanker Shane Jennings will lead the invitational side on what's likely to be the last game of a stellar career, and he will be joined by team-mates Zane Kirchner and Jimmy Gopperth, who will partner Ulster's Ruan Pienaar at half-back.
Deans has been able to name a side packed with big names, with former All Black Joe Rokocoko starting at outside centre and Lions flier Alex Cuthbert on the wing.
While they haven't had much time to get to know one another at their team base in Adare, Co Limerick, the ex-Australia coach says there is a determination among his squad to deliver a performance.
"We do it every year with a distinct group, so we're well versed in it," he said of the limited preparation.
"The time constraints mean you just chase the big rocks and get them in first so that the guys are not anxious about what they're doing - they get on and give what they've got.
"They're all here because of what they can do and the fact that they're good men first and foremost. The selections aren't made lightly, so you're alongside blokes who care about each other already. That's important.
"You show me a rugby team with players that don't care about each other; it's normally a bit ugly.
"To play well and win would be perfect, but we understand the context, we understand that that would be a Houdini act, but we've got some very capable men who won't see obstacles, they'll just look for ways through. Some of them will be creative.
"It'll be a good workout for the Irish team ahead of the World Cup, you're going to see them in a context where they'll be tested totally. So, if we can help in their prep, all the better."
Joe Schmidt's squad trained at the University of Limerick yesterday, the Ireland coach names his team today.
Barbarians (v Ireland) - Z Kirchner (Leinster/South Africa); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues/Wales), J Rokocoko (Bayonne/New Zealand), W Olivier (Montpellier/South Africa), D Smith (Toulon); J Gopperth (Leinster), R Pienaar (Ulster/South Africa); R Tejerizo (Tucuman/Argentina), D Fourie (Lyon), A Jones (Cardiff Blues/Wales); R Capo Ortega (Castres/Uruguay), K MIkautadze (Toulon/Georgia); S Jennings (Capt, Leinster/Ireland), G Vosloo (Toulon), R Koliniasi Holani (Wild Knights/Japan). Reps: D Ward (Harlequins), S Taumoepeau (Castres/New Zealand), M Diaz (Pampas/Argentina), G Whitelock (Wild Knights/New Zealand), G Smith (Lyon/Australia), T Cubelli (Belgrano Ath/Argentina), T Pisi (Suntory/Samoa), G Aplon (Grenoble/South Africa).