Well, Irish coach Declan Kidney has made his selection for the first of the countries 5 (including a match against Connacht) World Cup warm-up games, against Scotland, this Saturday. With one of two exceptions it’s an experimental side, with a lot of new players hoping to cement their chances for getting a call up to the Cup squad. The team sees a welcome return of Full Back Rob Kearney, after a long layoff from injury. Kearney hasn’t played all year and Ireland has missed having a world class player at 15. Both wings, Fitzgerald and Trimble, had relatively poor seasons and will want to show their best form. McFadden was one of the finds of the season and should provide some special moments. Sexton is partnered with O’Leary, who’s also had a long layoff through injury. He had been the first choice Scrum Half before his departure, but Eoin Reddan has stepped up, so O’Leary will really need to be at his best.
Leo Cullen will captain for the first time, though he has captained Leinster to 2 Heineken Cups, so he has plenty of credentials. He’s joined in the Second Row by Donncha Ryan. The Back Row sees a new cap in Connacht’s Mike McCarthy, who’s playing at 6. Back Row is one area where Ireland have an abundance of talent so battles for places will be fierce. Another uncapped player, Felix Jones, is on the bench. Jones has been another find this season for Munster. There are actually 5 forwards on the bench (instead of the usual 4), which means only 2 backs. This means that Paddy Wallace will likely be used in his capacity as a Utility Player. Wallace can also slot in as secondary place kicker. All in all, it’s quite an impressive side. It will be interesting to see how the team fares without the big guns like O’Driscoll and O’Connell, but it has enough talent to be successful. Scotland can’t be underestimated, though. They have enough talent of their own to be a danger. They haven’t being playing well and will want to show their ability. I’d give Ireland the nod, but not by much. After all it was very close earlier in the year.