Addison and Murphy in 'pole position' among Ireland's standby list

Joe Schmidt confirmed that he definitely won’t be calling on foreign-based players in an emergency.

THE CRUEL TRUTH is that injuries are part and parcel of a World Cup, even after squads have departed home soil.

Joe Schmidt will hope the 23 players he selects for Saturday’s final warm-up game against Wales in Dublin will come through unscathed, but the Ireland head coach is realistic about the dangers involved.

Even when Ireland arrive in Japan, there is a genuine possibility of World Cups being ended in the opening games against Scotland and Japan. As such, those players who narrowly missed out on making Schmidt’s final 31-man squad will be alert and ready.

irelands-will-addison Addison started at fullback against Wales last weekend. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Will Addison, Jordi Murphy, and Kieran Marmion have remained with Ireland this week to add extra bodies to training, having come out on the wrong side of very tight selection decisions. That trio will be at the top of Schmidt’s standby list in case of any emergencies.

The Ireland boss said those who don’t travel to Japan as part of the 31 next week will return to their provinces to begin preparations for the Pro14 season, ensuring they are ready if called upon.

Any players who are late call-ups to the World Cup will come from the 45-man extended training squad that did pre-season with Ireland this summer.

“It’s crystal clear that you can’t have them in the country [Japan], you cannot bring excess players into the country,” said Schmidt yesterday.

“Now, I know that in the past, players have been placed in a nearby country so they’re all set to go. We don’t have any intention of doing that.

“The players are best off to be comfortable, to be training, to be playing. If they’re playing Pro14, then they’re getting prepared and match fit, ready to fill in if the opportunity comes up.

“Kieran, Jordi, and Will, it would be the same for guys like Dev Toner, Ross Byrne, Tommy O’Donnell.

“Depending on who we lost, we’ll have someone ready to go, and we feel with the 14 guys who are not in this current 31 that we’ve got cover in every position and it would then be a decision.

jordi-murphy-arrives Murphy has been an important squad player under Schmidt. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Obviously, the cover-all ability of a Will Addison out the back and Jordi Murphy across the back row, I think they do become pole position because they cover multiple positions.”

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Addison, Murphy, Marmion, Toner, Byrne, O’Donnell, Jack McGrath, Finlay Bealham, Rob Herring, Ultan Dillane, John Cooney, Rory Scannell, Dave Kearney, and Mike Haley are the 14 players who will, therefore, make up the standy list for Schmidt.

The Ireland head coach confirmed that the exiled Simon Zebo, Donnacha Ryan and Ian Madigan will definitely not be providing any emergency back-up, adding that he wasn’t sure the rigours of the Top 14 would have Zebo and Ryan at peak fitness anyway.

“I’ve always tried to repeat the same message: that if we accept that in the pinnacle, the biggest tournament, if we do take players from outside of Ireland, then players are going to feel, ‘Well, I can go and play for more money somewhere else,’” said Schmidt.

“I coached in the Top 14. I don’t think that the Top 14 players are as fit as the Pro14 players. I believe that the players here are better conditioned, probably because they have to be because we don’t have the same size of squads or the same profile of player.

“So I think we’ve got to keep supporting the players who are on this island because that’s when our supporters get to see those players play, that’s when provinces can still supply the highest quality of rugby and stay competitive in Europe.

“Otherwise, if we start to dilute that player quality I think it’s a real risk for us because we don’t have the same scale of economy in Ireland as they do in the French competition and the same with the Premiership.

“So it’s admirable that players stay here for substantially less money so that they can pull on a green jersey. And when they pull it on, it’s very, very seldom that they don’t give it incredibly good service.”

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