Saturday 16 December 2017

Nine-year wait over for Casey as six new caps face Canada

Rory Best of Ireland pictured against Namibian during the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Photo: Julian Finney, Getty Images
Rory Best of Ireland pictured against Namibian during the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Photo: Julian Finney, Getty Images

Hugh Farrelly

Rory Best will lead an Ireland team that contains six new caps for the opening game of the Ireland summer tour against Canada in Vancouver this Saturday.

In addition to the new caps in the starting team, there are a further five possible new caps named among the replacements.

The pack has an experienced foundation through the leadership of Best and he will be accompanied in the front row by Tom Court at loosehead, who starts his first game for Ireland and Tony Buckley, who starts at tighthead.

Bob Casey will end a nine-year gap between his last cap, which was also against Canada in 2000 when he lines out in the second row with Mick O'Driscoll.

The backline contains four new caps including Connacht out-half Ian Keatley who partners Peter Stringer.

Coach Declan Kidney said: "Our aim at the start of this season was to build a squad but with so many experienced players available, it has been difficult for some players to get experiences of their own. This is an ideal tour for them as they are exposed to the full rigours of test match rugby."

Meanwhile, Leinster scrum-half Chris Whitaker has been linked with a move to Leicester to replace the departing Julien Dupuy, who is determined to leave after Saturday's Heineken Cup final.


Whitaker and Dupuy are set for a head-to-head showdown in Murrayfield but the Frenchman, called up to the France squad yesterday, wants to accept a lucrative offer from Stade Francais next season because his girlfriend has not settled in Leicester.

With Ireland's Eoin Reddan joining Leinster next season , Whitaker has been touted as a possible replacement for Dupuy at Welford Road -- adding extra spice to their impending clash.

Meanwhile, Danny Cipriani has been warned his international future depends on how he reacts to being overlooked for England's summer Test series against Argentina. The Wasps out-half will play for the Saxons in the Churchill Cup after being overtaken in the England pecking order by Leicester's in-form Sam Vesty.

With Toby Flood out injured and Jonny Wilkinson not considered as he completes his recovery from a dislocated knee, the uncapped Vesty will compete with Andy Goode to start the two Tests against Argentina, while there is a recall for veteran World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson (30).

Elsewhere, South Africa coach Peter de Villiers has included six uncapped players in his 23-man training squad for the match against a Namibian Invitation XV in Windhoek on May 29.

IRELAND -- G Duffy; B Murphy, D Cave*, I Whitten*, I Dowling*; I Keatley*, P Stringer; T Court, R Best (Capt), T Buckley, B Casey, M O'Driscoll, J Muldoon*, N Ronan*, D Leamy. Replacements:

S Cronin*, M Ross*, R Caldwell*, D Ryan, E Reddan, N O'Connor*,D Hurley* -- (Uncapped players).

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