Four new faces will report for Ireland’s training camp on June 18th as Andy Farrell announced his forty-two player squad. Hawkeye Sidekick assesses the winners and losers from today’s announcement.
The debutantes obviously but it is genuine reward for standout provincial cameos and Emerging Ireland displays earlier in the season.
Calvin Nash’s inclusion personally was expected given his excellent season with both Munster Rugby and Emerging Ireland in South Africa tour. A player who has massively benefited from the Mike Prendergast attacking game plan this season. It is when and not if Nash gets his first senior cap for Ireland but it may be after the RWC 2023.
Ciaran Frawley gets the nod. His versatility is an asset for the squad filling full back, centre and backup ten if required. The preseason games here will make or break the Leinster Rugby player’s ambition to secure a berth in the squad which looks competitive in three quarters and full back areas.
Jamie Osborne continues to impress Ireland management and gets a training camp inclusion. Osborne has shown electric pace and attacking flair for Leinster Rugby this season but for me is up against quality established three quarters. A reserve spot is on the cards here.
Tom Stewart was a lock for this training squad. The Ulster Rugby hooker has evolved into a try scoring machine. His ability in open play and excellent set piece means that the hooker depth chart is stacked. Sheehan, Kelleher, Herring and Stewart will push each other on to new levels of performance.
Dave Kilcoyne. The loosehead prop depth chart will have Porter, Healy locked into the squad. Loughman played extensive minutes for Munster Rugby in the URC playoff push so Dave Kilcoyne will need to prove to management that he is ready to step up and deliver for Ireland. This is an interesting watch as this depth chart unit is not at all nailed down.
Jeremy Loughman has had a superb playoff campaign for Munster Rugby. His return to the side has solidified the set piece and his ball carrying has been on point. Dave Kilcoyne is picked ahead of Loughman but you sense Loughman may still feature in this squad when it comes to RWC 2023.
Jean Kleyn has been Munster Rugby’s player of the season. He can do no more in terms of provincial performances. Ireland management do not want the player which is a real shame. Kleyn impressed again in the URC Grand final. Ireland’s loss is Munster’s gain as Kleyn will be rejuvenated and ready to go for the new season.
Joey Carbery is omitted. With Frawley a potential ten in reserve, it looks bleak for Carbery to secure a place in the RWC 2023. Carbery must focus on provincial form first and foremost as Jack Crowley now is the de-facto first choice ten at the ball club. It has been a horrendous dip in fortunes for the player.
Robert Baloucoune has been a standout this year for Ulster Rugby. An exceptionally pacy winger whose has improved his defensive play considerably. Stockdale gets the nod for more versatility but Baloucoune will be disappointed not to make the training squad.
Ross Molony along with Jean Kleyn can do more given their consistent performances for their provinces. Molony has exceptional work rate and set piece execution. Ireland management have gone for McCarthy, Treadwell in the roster rankings so it looks remote for Molony to make any impression now.
Jordan Larmour. The back is an exceptional talent whose line speed and creativity is exceptional. Injuries have played a part in this omission. It is tough to break into that back three depth chart given the form of others. A quality player but one that may need to look at proceedings from a far.
21 Leinster, 9 Munster, 7 Ulster, 5 Connacht is the provincial makeup of this training squad. The simple fact of the matter here is that Ireland squad changes were going to be few and far between.
URC playoff heroics from Munster Rugby was welcome for the likes of Haley, Frisch and Hodnett to impress but management have their national squad locked in mostly.
Ireland are 6N and Grand Slam champions. Farrell is going to stay loyal with the squad (bulk of) that has secured success in recent seasons.
The warm-up games look intriguing. Italy, England and Samoa in their August warm-up fixtures will provide plenty of opportunity for players to hit form before the RWC 2023 kicks off. There will be no doubt horrendous player bad luck ruling someone out of the tournament but this training squad looks settled.
The bigger question for Andy Farrell and management is cutting down this forty-two player squad to the required thirty-three in late August. You feel that one or two established names may miss out in favour of players hitting form at the right time. An interesting watch beckons!