Sport Autumn Internationals

Thursday 22 March 2018

Back-row options

Ferris, Wallace and Heaslip make up Declan Kidney's first-choice back-row. Bubbling underneath are a range of options ... Denis Leamy, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip -- this week's model.

Kidney half-joked during the week that all his back-rowers are flexible, except Heaslip, who hogs the No 8 jersey. Hence this week, Leamy slots in at No 6 while O'Brien has the chance to impress at No 7. A ball-carrying trio.

Ferris, Jennings, Heaslip

A fully-fit Shane Jennings hasn't even made it into Kidney's November thoughts and the former Leicester man will need to rediscover his Premiership form to break into the World Cup plans.

Ruddock, Faloon, Henry

Rhys Ruddock and Chris Henry formed two-thirds of the back-row in the non-Test defeat to the Maori during the summer, and Willie Faloon should be encouraged to play more for Ulster, as he could be an ideal candidate in an injury crisis.

Leamy, O'Brien, Muldoon

Ferris and Heaslip will need to be rested in the World Cup and this trio, especially Connacht's John Muldoon, would fancy their chances against the lesser lights as they're an ultra-physical group.

Ronan, Jennings, Henry

Survivors from the Test in Australia in June, when none of the front-line crew were available. Neil Ronan wasn't disgraced and emphasised the depth of Ireland's back-row options.

Irish Independent

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