Thursday 16 October 2014

Irish Eye On The World Cup Squad 2: PRE European Cups

A lot has happened since the last Irish Eye, so it's best to have a look at the top 31 in pole position to make Joe's squad for next year's squad and the closest contenders.

Injuries and form have changed a bit, and after these two weeks of European action, I expect more from Leinster, Munster and Ulster to put their hand up.

1st Choice 2nd Choice 3rd Choice 4th Choice 5th Choice 6th Choice 7th Choice
1 Cian Healy Jack McGrath James Cronin Dave Kilcoyne Callum Black Denis Buckley
2 Rory Best Sean Cronin Richardt Strauss Damien Varley Rob Herring Mike Sherry Duncan Casey
3 Mike Ross Martin Moore Declan Fitzpatrick Tadhg Furlong Nathan White Rodney Ah You Stephen Archer
4 Devin Toner Iain Henderson Donnacha Ryan Dave Foley Donncha O'Callaghan
5 Paul O'Connell Dan Tuohy Mike McCarthy Mick Kearney
6 Peter O'Mahony Rhys Ruddock Robbie Diack Kevin McLaughlin
7 Sean O'Brien Chris Henry Jordi Murphy Tommy O'Donnell Dominic Ryan Sean Dougall
8 Jamie Heaslip Robin Copeland Roger Wilson Jack Conan
9 Conor Murray Eoin Reddan Kieran Marmion Isaac Boss Luke McGrath Paul Marshall
10 Jonathan Sexton Paddy Jackson Ian Keatley JJ Hanrahan
11 Andrew Trimble Simon Zebo Dave Kearney Luke Fitzgerald
12 Gordon D'Arcy Ian Madigan Luke Marshall Stuart McCloskey Stuart Olding Noel Reid
13 Robbie Henshaw Jared Payne Darren Cave
14 Tommy Bowe Fergus McFadden Craig Gilroy Keith Earls
15 Rob Kearney Felix Jones

Major Changes:

I believe that James Cronin's form is better than Dave Kilcoyne. Their battle for the final loosehead spot will be fascinating, and one to watch. There is a real danger that the winner of this duel will be the only Munster front row representative in the squad.

Martin Moore's injury is putting him in doubt, but the biggest beneficiary of this is Tadhg Furlong, who may usurp Moore's position in Leinster, and find himself second choice Irish tighthead. This may or may not be dependent on Declan Fitzpatrick's permanent injuries.

Kieran Marmion's form has to place him in front of Isaac Boss, who should be under threat from Luke McGrath both at Leinster and in Ireland, but Matt O'Connor doesn't like good young players.

I've moved Ian Madigan from a 10 candidate to a 12 candidate, and put him on the short plane to England/Wales. Stuart McCloskey is putting pressure on Luke Marshall and Stuart Olding, and whoever gets the most gametime there will be a frontrunner, but it's much to early to see who that could be. With Madigan and D'Arcy however, it'll be a tight battle.

Fergus McFadden's injury coupled with Simon Zebo's form have swapped those two, although I expect that will only be temporary.

Jared Payne has been simultaneously keeping Darren Cave out of the Ulster team, and proving to Irish rugby that his best position is full back without a shadow of a doubt. If he gets time there, he could/should put Rob Kearney's first team place under threat, but Joe's a loyal guy.

Injuries to Andrew Trimble at the worst time benefit Craig Gilroy immensely. He'll be looking to leapfrog the inactive Dave Kearney when given his chance in the next two weeks.

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