Sport Rugby

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Quinlan and O'Kelly to start for Barbarians against Ireland

Malcolm O'Kelly.
Malcolm O'Kelly.

Ian Bransfield

Alan Quinlan and Malcolm O'Kelly will both line out for the Barbarians when they take on an under-strength Ireland team at Thomond Park on Friday night.

O'Kelly comes straight into the second-row as head coach Philippe Saint André makes do without injured locks Ross Skeate and Ben Kay, while Quinlan joins the iconic figure of George Smith in the back row.

Cardiff Blues' player of the year Xavier Rush will once again captain the side from No 8. The former All Black was in good spirits yesterday as he spoke with reporters at Garryowen RFC, but politely declined to comment when asked about the current state of impasse surrounding his proposed move to Ulster.

Elsewhere, Brock James and Pierre Mignoni form a new half-back partnership, while Saracens hooker Schalk Brits comes into the front-row.

In all, there are 11 changes from the side which went down narrowly to England last weekend, with Seru Rabeni and David Smith also included among the backs, and David Barnes, Cencus Johnston, Jerome Thion and George Smith all coming into the pack.

Paul Sackey faces a late fitness test on a hamstring injury before taking his place on the replacements' bench. Otherwise Fabrice Estebanez will deputise.

Speaking ahead of the game, both Saint André and forwards coach Kingsley Jones stressed the importance of getting off to a good start.

"It is difficult to come together very quickly" said the former French winger, "but against England we played some very good rugby. We scored four tries and we had opportunities to score or two others. The only thing was our defence, which was a little bit shaky in the first half."

His comments were echoed by Jones, who added: "In such a short space of time, we just have to worry about ourselves, make sure we get things right.

"The biggest thing about the Barbarians is that you enter the camp and you have so much respect for each other. But with any player, if you play a bad 30 or 40 minutes, you quickly lose that respect. If anything they want to gain even more respect for each other. Winning is the best way to do that."

Barbarians -- P Warwick; D Smith, C Lualala, S Rabeni, C Heymans; B James, P Mignoni; D Barnes, S Brits; C Johnston, J Thion, M O'Kelly; A Quinlan, G Smith, X Rush. Reps: B August, J White, R So'oialo, M Williams, B Kelleher, J-B Elissalde, F Estebanez or P Sackey.

Irish Independent

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