Ireland A vs All Blacks XV: Casey named captain as Stockdale appearance rules him out of Springboks clash

Frawley, McCarthy and Lowry also feature despite being touted as options for senior side

Craig Casey has been named captain of the Ireland ‘A’ side that will take on the All Blacks XV at The RDS on Friday evening (kick-off 7.45pm). The Munster scrumhalf is one of 12 players who played against the Māori All Blacks during the summer tour of New Zealand.

Back in the international fold after lengthy periods away from the Irish set up are Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale and Marty Moore. Stockdale last lined out for Ireland against Japan in July 2021 and returns to his left wing berth with 35 caps, while replacement Moore played his last game for Ireland against Scotland in March 2015.

Ciaran Frawley starts at outhalf with playmaker James Hume outside him and Emerging Ireland star Jamie Osborne at second centre. Leinster wing Jimmy O’Brien is on the right flank with Ulster’s talented Michael Lowry starting at fullback.

The starting pack features four uncapped players in loosehead prop Jeremy Loughman, locks Joe McCarthy and Gavin Thornbury and Connacht blindside flanker Cian Prendergast.


The selection suggests Jamison Gibson-Park, who has had hamstring issues, may start at scrumhalf against South Africa on Saturday with Conor Murray on the bench. The absence of Ulster winger Robert Balocoune in the Friday squad also suggests he may appear on Saturday against the Springboks.

“He’s an obvious choice for us,” said Farrell about his captain. “We broached the subject straight away and it was unanimous it would be Craig. Why? Because it’s him being himself, he’s a natural leader, just the way he handles himself on a daily basis in and around everyone.

“He’s the ultimate professional. He prepares really well, and he’s been in this environment for some time, so the responsibility is a nice step in his journey as well.”

After a year out through injury, a frustrated Stockdale injured his ankle playing for Ulster in October.

“We all know Jacob has been out injured for quite some time, and there are a few lads that staked a place pretty well over the last 12 months,” said Farrell. “But Jacob coming back at the start of the season has shown a lot of hunger in my eyes.

“I know he’s not played for a couple of weeks, but his hunger at the start of the season, how he attacked the season shows me the fight and the want to get his spot back.”

Seven years since his last Test, Moore’s form with Ulster earned the tighthead man of the match in their recent game against Munster in Thomond Park.

“With Marty, I think he’s been ever-present and consistently very good for Ulster. I think he’s been the cornerstone of the Ulster pack for the last few years. Fast-forward all the way to his last game against Munster, and he’s earned the right to deserve his chance.”

Farrell expects the All Black selection to be greater challenge than the Maoris.

“These lads they’re paying against on Friday night are next cabs off the rank in terms of the All Blacks,” said Farrell. “We know they’re going to be very strong, and a big step up.”

Ireland A: Michael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge); Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas), Jamie Osborne (Leinster/Naas), James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge), Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan); Ciarán Frawley (Leinster/Skerries), Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) (captain); Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen), Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers), Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch); Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin), Gavin Thornbury (Connacht); Cian Prendergast (Connacht), Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge), Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster).

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron (Munster/Garryowen), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians), Marty Moore (Ulster), Ross Molony (Leinster/UCD), Max Deegan (Leinster/Lansdowne), Caolin Blade (Connacht/Galwegians), Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution), Calvin Nash (Munster/Young Munster).

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times