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Schmidt Calls Upon Experience To Seal The Series

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True to his word, Joe Schmidt has presented the potential for all 29 touring players in Argentina to get game time over this two game tour. While he may not have proven to be the ultra radical, anti predictable coach when it comes to selection, that’s still some bloody good work in 160 minutes. So who is in?

Well most significantly, Simon Zebo is not gone. Yes as pointed out before, Schmidt has many injured and non-touring back line players but once and for all let the tinfoil hats come off, there’s potential for Zebo to retain his place he seemed to earn in 2012. A stronger showing tomorrow and we’ll have a great dog fight for the wingers come November.

Also significant is the inclusion of Jack McGrath as tight head prop cover on the bench, strength in depth is still a key focus and the World Cup prep aspect of this tour is not lost on the management. Some may argue that more “genuine” tight heads should be getting this opportunity but if there’s any mixing around that’s ‘easier” it certainly is that of tight head to loose and so a trial for McGrath will do well.

Elsewhere it’s much of a like for like, Eoin Reddan, Dave Kilcoyne, Devin Toner, Rhys Ruddock and Jamie Heaslip all bumping their counterparts from last week onto the bench or out of the squad in favour of an unused alternative. Crucially these changes bring experience back in with them however, indicating that a series win is still significant to Schmidt (it has been a long time let’s not forget since Ireland won any series that wasn’t over Pacific Island or US teams).

Fergus McFadden slotting into 13 is interesting in the sense that Darren Cave has remained in at 12. Luke Marshall has shown enough in all his time in green, but Schmidt clearly sees his next generation centre partnership coming from two of Cave, McFadden, Marshall and of course Robbie Henshaw when back fit. For the Pumas one change is Antonio Ahualli De Chazal in through injury. The relatively inexperienced Number 8 is one of only two changes from last week, showing Daniel Hourcade shows the same thoughts as most that his squad last week played well above their rank and are more than capable of putting a scare to Ireland tomorrow. All said though, with the experience back in the boys in green should prevail.
Verdict: Ireland win

The rest of the weekend’s rugby feast:

New Zealand V England Midway in the series and the biggest draw is the return of Danny Care and Owen Farrell. Good chance for England to level the series here.
South Africa V Wales Wales have never cracked the Springboks in South Africa in 8 attempts, could this be the one? Maybe, with Wales looking infinitely fresher than the Boks.
Australia V France Nope, won’t even comment on this one, Phillippe Saint Andre and whatever cloud he lives upon defies all logic. But Morgan Parra back at 9, wahey.
Canada V Scotland If last week is anything to go on, for a rugby purest this could be great. We are watching a team reborn in Scotland, and come the end of this series there will be much to discuss.

Image courtesy of ie.msn.com

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