Gilroy the only likely change from team that played SA
Both Ireland and Argentina will today confirm largely anticipated line-ups for Saturday’s hugely significant international at the Aviva Stadium. Having seen six front-liners ruled out of the South African game, the expectation remains Declan Kidney will stick largely with the XV who started that day.
The one exception is likely to be a promotion for the uncapped Craig Gilroy.
In what is shaping into a memorable week for the 21-year-old winger, Gilroy this week finalised a three-year contract extension with Ulster.
A graduate of Methodist College who has come through Irish Schools and the Ulster academy, and another being fast-tracked from the Ireland under-20s, Gilroy has been Ulster’s top try scorer in each of the last two seasons and looks to have forced his way into the Test XV after his hat-trick against Fiji last Saturday.
Ireland backs coach Les Kiss has since described Gilroy’s performance as “certainly special” and confirmed Gilroy had been on the management’s “talking list” for the tour of New Zealand.
“He just had a few things to work on and full credit to the young guy, he’s gone ahead and worked on his high-ball taking and some of the defensive elements to his game and he’s really done well in those parts; he comes on the field the other night and was just bursting with confidence. He’s a really diligent young lad who just wants to work on the things he has to work on without comprising the strengths of his game.
“He’s got fantastic footwork, exceptional speed and just a wonderful enthusiasm to work across the park.”
Elsewhere, there were clearly concerns over the performance of Mike Ross against South Africa after the concession of two penalties prompted him being replaced by Michael Bent. But Declan Kidney made it abundantly clear Ross needed game time in the aftermath of the Fijian game.
Mike McCarthy assuredly earned his right to retain his place in the continuing absence of Paul O’Connell and it’s unlikely Iain Henderson will have pushed his way in ahead of either Peter O’Mahony or Chris Henry.
It would not be a huge shock if Eoin Reddan was promoted this time. But the odds on that can’t have been helped by him being ruled out of the Fijian game, along with Murray’s commanding performance last Saturday.
When asked about the upcoming vacancy in Connacht, Kiss said: “At this stage my whole focus is November. They’re conversations for later and deeper thoughts for me to have then.”
However, along with Declan Kidney and Gert Smal, Kiss is under contract until after the June tour to the USA and Canada, and he is not amongst the list of “approximately 40 applicants” for the job to replace Eric Elwood. Given applications close on December 1st, nor is he expected to be.
According to a Connacht statement, applicants feature “international contenders from the major leagues of world rugby and a number of head coaches who have operated at international level.”
The process of deciding a shortlist and interviewing will be conducted by a four-man selection panel of CEO Tom Sears, two members of the Connacht Professional Games Board, Conor McGuinness and Steve Cunningham, and an IRFU representative. A decision is expected in the new year.
It is understood there has been contact with former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan, and that current assistant coaches Billy Millard and Dan McFarland have also put their names in the hat, with rumours that high profile Australian candidates include Eddie Jones and John Connolly.
Connacht announced yesterday that prized academy member, scrumhalf Kieran Marmion, has signed a two year profession contract until 2015.
Possible Ireland XV
15 Simon Zebo (Munster)
14 Tommy Bowe (Ulster)
13 Keith Earls (Munster)
12 Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster)
11 Craig Gilroy (Ulster)
10 Jonathan Sexton (Leinster)
9 Conor Murray (Munster)
1 Cian Healy (Leinster)
2 Richardt Strauss (Leinster)
3 Mike Ross (Leinster)
4 Donnacha Ryan (Munster)
5 Mike McCarthy (Connacht)
6 Peter O’Mahony (Munster)
7 Chris Henry (Ulster)
8 Jamie Heaslip (Leinster, capt)
Replacements: D Kilcoyne (Munster), S Cronin (Leinster), M Bent (Leinster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), I Henderson (Ulster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O’Gara (Munster), F McFadden (Leinster).