Simon Easterby to again lead Emerging Ireland tour to South Africa

Side will face Currie Cup and Super Rugby opposition on three-match tour in the autumn

Simon Easterby will again lead an Emerging Ireland tour to South Africa in the autumn to play three matches against Currie Cup and Super Rugby opposition. The Irish side will face the Pumas, Western Force and the Cheetahs.

The former Irish flanker will be assisted by Ireland forwards coach Paul O’Connell, Ireland scrum coach John Fogarty and incoming Ireland backs coach Andrew Goodman, who will leave Leinster at the end of the season.

The squad will assemble at the IRFU High Performance Centre in Dublin on September 25th, before departing for Bloemfontein three days later.

The tour kicks off with a match against Currie Cup side the Pumas in the campaign opener on Wednesday, October 2nd, before going head-to-head with Super Rugby outfit Western Force on Sunday, October 6th. The tour concludes with a game against defending Currie Cup champions the Cheetahs on Wednesday, October 9th, with all matches being played at Toyota Stadium.

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The format, which follows from a successful series in 2022, is designed to challenge the players in a national team environment, providing them with a window to impress the coaches and train and play to the national team’s tactical and technical approach.

Two years ago, Jack Crowley, Calvin Nash and Joe McCarthy were among those who impressed as the team claimed the Toyota Challenge title with wins over the Windhoek Draught Griquas, the Pumas and the Cheetahs.

All three of those players were part of Andy Farrell’s Six Nations-winning squad earlier this year.

“We are delighted to confirm details of a second Emerging Ireland tour to South Africa later this year, the value of which cannot be understated,” said Farrell. “This short three-match window will once again provide an opportunity for players within the system to come into a national team environment, work with the national team coaches and access meaningful game time in a green jersey.

“Ahead of a busy four-match Autumn Nations Series in November, it is important we continue to broaden our selection pool and ensure young players are given every opportunity to further develop and gain an understanding of what is required to perform for Ireland at the highest level.”

Kick-off times and broadcast details will be confirmed later, while the travelling squad will be announced in September.

Emerging Ireland Tour, South Africa 2024

Wednesday, October 2nd: Emerging Ireland v The Pumas; Sunday, October 6th: Emerging Ireland v Western Force; Wednesday, October 9th: Emerging Ireland v The Cheetahs.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times