BE PART OF THE TEAM

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 11°C Sunday 18 April 2021
Advertisement

Ruddock unlucky to miss out as 'really solid ' Beirne gets shot at blindside

Joe Schmidt is excited to have Robbie Henshaw back in his starting team.

IT HAD SEEMED that Rhys Ruddock’s powerful and energetic performance against Russia might have catapulted him into contention for a shot against Samoa in Ireland’s final pool game, but the Leinster man is absent from Joe Schmidt’s matchday squad.

Schmidt referenced Ruddock being “a little slow to pick up” physically in training this week but it’s understood that he is injury-free and that this was purely a selection decision.

With Peter O’Mahony – another player who Schmidt put was in the slow-to-pick-up bracket – shifting to the bench after three consecutive starts for Ireland at this World Cup, it’s Tadhg Beirne who gets a starting shot in Ireland’s six shirt instead.

tadhg-beirne Beirne starts at blindside flanker. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Munster forward has been involved in all three Ireland games so far, albeit off the bench twice, and now gets his second start of the tournament, shifting from the second row after a start there against the Russians.

His turnover threat, lineout skills, mobility, and sheer hunger could be important weapons for Ireland against the Samoans.

“He has been really solid, he’s been versatile for us,” said Schmidt by way of assessing Beirne’s impact on this World Cup so far. “I thought he carried well against Russia, albeit the ball was more and more like a bar of soap in the game, which made it very difficult.

“I think his ability to put pressure on the ball on the ground, his lineout work has been good – he gives us a little bit more height in the lineout – probably not quite the speed that Pete has in getting up in the lineout. 

“Defensively, he gets off the line well and he has trained really well. That’s probably the bit that people don’t see that does certainly have an influence in our eyes in making selection.”

Indeed, training is a major factor in Schmidt’s eyes and he indicated that Rob Kearney’s slow start to this week after taking a knock against Russia had counted against him.

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

While Kearney did run at Ireland’s training session in Fukuoka today, Jordan Larmour gets the nod to start at fullback against the Samoans. 

Meanwhile, there is real excitement at the return from injury of Robbie Henshaw, with the Leinster centre having missed out on involvement in this World Cup so far due to a hamstring injury he suffered at Ireland’s very first training session in Japan.

robbie-henshaw-with-keith-fox Henshaw is back at 13. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The 26-year-old will partner Bundee Aki in midfield on a special day for the Connacht centre, Samoa being the birthplace of his parents.

“We’ve gone with the guys who can give us the best preparation into the game and a bit of a mix,” said Schmidt of his team selection.

“Guys like Garry Ringrose has been outstanding so far, but he’s played three sets of 80 minutes in just 11 days. You can’t expect people to keep on keeping on when that’s the case.

“Robbie is fresh and we’re excited to have him in there. So it is a little bit about balancing the load as well, albeit in a huge game for us.” 

About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from Fukuoka

Read next:

COMMENTS (12)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel