England Saxon's squad
This is shaping up to be some game. I've thought for a while that the Saxons seem to play with some freedom and impressiveness that they often perform better than the actual English sides.
Especially with some outstanding young talent coming through like George Ford, Christian Wade and Elliot Daly, backing up some known performers like Charlie Sharples, Tom Palmer and Louis Deacon.
As for the Irish selection; there are several things that we can take from the selection in terms of the upcoming 6 nations, and a number of things to watch out for come Friday.
The role of backup loosehead is very much up for grabs. We are in a fortunate enough position to have three good quality looseheads, with Healy out in front. Penney's calls for Kilcoyne to be a Lion might be a little premature, but not discounted. Both Court and Kilcoyne have been impressive recently, and whoever impresses more on Friday, should if given any game time, make a good case for Lions inclusion. I presume it'll be a half each, but if one gets more time than the other it might hint to which way Kidney is thinking.
At hooker, it's obvious that Cronin is now Best's backup, and rightly so. And with Sherry head and shoulders above Varley at Munster, thats how that order should stay. Interesting to see Sherry in a slightly higher level.
This is the first time that Bent has competition to Ross's backup as Fitzpatrick was injured in November. Similar to the looseheads, I would expect a half each, but again, anything different would suggest a leaning towards one over the other.
With two second rows picked, and three left in the main squad, there doesn't seem to be much to play for here. Especially with the Munster pair's impressive form, and McCarthy's performances in November. What is interesting is who shall be the replacement second row for the Wolfhounds. It looks to me that Henderson might be given a go to see what he's like in secondrow in front of the Irish management.
As mentioned, with 3 blindside flankers included in a squad of 23, it seems Henderson, or possibly McLaughlin is picked to cover lock. The 4 back rows left in the first team seem to be the 4 for the squad. Which will be an interesting call. It's good to finally see O'Donnell get a chance to impress. And who knows, maybe Coughlan will prove me wrong and show some talent.
At 9, Reddan and Murray seem miles ahead of Marshall and Boss. Kidney doesnt seem interested in Boss, despite his good form recently. Hopefully Marshall gets a good chance to shine.
I don't understand the thought process behind having three outhalfs in a squad of 23. It seems Jackson is ahead of Madigan who is ahead of Keatley. Whoever is covering 15 between Madigan and Keatley is at a disadvantage.
The inclusion of Fitzgerald and Trimble, even for match fitness, seem to suggest that Zebo and Gilroy are ahead of them. Which is an interesting call. Possible that McFadden is ahead of them aswell.
Also seems that Earls is ahead of Cave in the backup to O'Driscoll, which is also a questionable call.
Lastly, delighted to see McSharry and Henshaw, will be interesting to see them in the company of better players.
1. Court, Kilcoyne
2. Sherry, Varley
3. Bent , Fitzpatrick
6. Henderson, McLaughlin, Ruddock
9. Boss, Marshall
10. Jackson, Keatley, Madigan
2. Best, Cronin
5. McCarthy, Ryan
8. Heaslip, O'Mahony
9. Murray, Reddan
10. O'Gara, Sexton
12. D'Arcy, McFadden
13. Earls, O'Driscoll