Saturday 18 November 2017

Talking points from Joe Schmidt's selection for Georgia

Robbie Diack will start at the base of the scrum against Georgia
Robbie Diack will start at the base of the scrum against Georgia

Declan Whooley and Evan Prendergast

After a sensational win against South Africa, the Irish rugby team are hoping to continue their streak when they face Georgia in Dublin on Sunday.

Here are some of the talking points from Joe Schmidt's team selection.

New Players

Thirteen will hopefully not be an unlucky number for Schmidt as only Simon Zebo and Mike Ross retain their places from the bruising victory over the Springboks with next week's Test with Australia in mind.

Dave Foley will make his international debut against Georgia

Dave Foley and Dominic Ryan are rewarded for their fine early season form and will make their debuts while Robbie Diack gets the opportunity to showcase his talents with Jamie Heaslip taking a rare break.

The Halfbacks

As expected, a new pair of halfbacks will start as opposed to the usual Conor Murray-Jonathan Sexton combination we saw last week.

Sexton oozed class in a man-of –the-match performance last Saturday and Madigan will get the opportunity to show that he is more than just a utility player but somebody capable of running a backline and injecting some creative flair.

Ian Madigan

The experienced Reddan will lead the team out against the European minnows as he looks to apply pressure on Murray's number nine jersey.

More midfield options

Gordon D'Arcy will add plenty of experience to midfield when he steps onto the pitch on Sunday, but it will be his outside partner who will be aiming to lay down a marker.

Darren Cave was not even part of the original 37-man squad and has voiced his frustrations in the past at his lack of action in a green jersey.

Darren Cave will be hoping to impress when he starts at outside centre for Ireland against Georgia

With Ulster team-mate Jared Payne succumbing to injury, the 27 year-old can serve Schmidt a timely reminder of his talents following his late call-up.

"Darren’s a guy who has played for us before, but this is an opportunity for him," the head coach said today. The player himself needs little reminding.

Motivated back three

The back three to face Georgia combines a mix of excitement and solidity. Craig Gilroy, one of the stars in a disappointing 2012 Six Nations, makes his long-awaited return to the international fold while on the other wing, Simon Zebo gets another chance to show Schmidt he has what it takes to become a regular on his team.

Felix Jones in action during an open training session

Munster full-back Felix Jones is enjoying a new lease of life without injury problems and fully deserves his opportunity. Rob Kearney may be one of the most accomplished  in the business, but Jones can use the November Series and Six Nations to prove he is more than a capable understudy.

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