Rhys Ruddock to captain Emerging Ireland against Italy

JJ Hanrahan takes the number 10 jersey as Tbilsi Cup campaign begins

Rhys Ruddock will captain Emerging Ireland in their Tbilisi Cup opener against Emerging Italy. Photograph: Inpho

Rhys Ruddock will captain Emerging Ireland in their Tbilisi Cup opener against Emerging Italy. Photograph: Inpho

 

Emerging Ireland coaches Allen Clarke and Girvan Dempsey have named their side for the opening game of the Tbilsi Cup on Saturday.

Rhys Ruddock will lead the team against emerging Italy, as a number of Ireland hopefuls look improve their chances of a place in Joe Schmidt’s World Cup squad.

Ruddock starts at blindside flanker in an all-Leinster backrow, with Dan Leavy and Jack Conan, who came into the squad in the place of Eoin Mckeown, starting at seven and eight.

Northampton bound JJ Hanrahan has the chance to pull the strings from outhalf, with Luke McGrath taking the number nine jersey.

Ulster’s powerful centre Stuart McCloskey starts at 12 as he looks to stake a late claim for a World Cup midfield slot, and he has Eoin Griffin - currently the only member of the side not plying his trade in Ireland - outside him at 13.

Connacht dominate the matchday squad with nine representatives in the 23 and Tiernan O’Halloran and Matt Healy are joined in the back three by Andrew Conway.

Ahead of Saturday’s game, Clarke said: “In the short period we have been together we have had a very positive response from the players. The game against Emerging Italy provides an opportunity for these players to illustrate to us how well they have prepared and their ability to cope within this challenging environment.”

After Saturday’s game Emerging Ireland play Uruguay next Wednesday and then Georgia on June 21st.

Emerging Ireland: Tiernan O’Halloran , Andrew Conway, Eoin Griffin, Stuart McCloskey, Matt Healy, JJ Hanrahan, Luke McGrath, Denis Buckley, Rob Herring, Stephen Archer, Ben Marshall, Billy Holland, Rhys Ruddock, Dan Leavy, Jack Conan

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Andy Warwick, Finlay Bealham, Andrew Browne, Eoghan Masterson, John Cooney, Rory Scannell, Peter Nelson

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