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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

5 players we would love to see get their chance for Ireland

There is a growing appetite for Andy Farrell to give opportunities to some of the less-experienced members of his Guinness Six Nations squad.

IT HAS BEEN something of a mixed bag for Andy Farrell’s Ireland team across the opening three rounds of Guinness Six Nations action.

Encouraging wins against Scotland and Wales were followed by a disjointed defeat to England at Twickenham, leaving Farrell with plenty to mull over before the remainder of the 2020 campaign — which has been disrupted by the postponement of the Italy game. 

With Ireland yet to fully convince under the new head coach, there is a growing appetite among supporters to see Farrell switch things up and try out some new faces in an effort to add a new dynamic to the team.

We’ve picked five players that we’d love to see Farrell hand a chance to, and we want you to rate each one: 

Caelan Doris

One of the hottest prospects in Irish rugby, 21-year-old Doris already looks ready made for the Test arena. 

Farrell is clearly a big fan, having handed Doris his Ireland debut with a starting role in the opening round defeat of Scotland, before a head injury assessment forced him off with less than five minutes on the clock at the Aviva Stadium. 

Fully recovered, Doris is now primed to push for inclusion again. It leaves Farrell with some big decisions to make. Does the Ireland head coach keep the reinstated Peter O’Mahony in his team, or move the Munster captain back to the bench? Or does CJ Stander drop out to accommodate both O’Mahony and Doris? 

Doris was the form back-row in Ireland leading into the tournament, and with his debut ending so early, we have yet to see what he can offer on the international stage.

If Farrell wants to get some Test level experience into the young Leinster back-row, now is the time.

6

 

John Cooney

The big talking point during the build-up to this Guinness Six Nations was whether Andy Farrell would stick with the tried and tested Conor Murray or hand an opportunity to the in-form John Cooney at scrum-half.

With reviews of Murray’s performances ranging from solid to way off-colour, the clamour to give Cooney his shot hasn’t died down. The Ulster scrum-half has been superb for his province this season, and offers the type of creative spark in attack which Murray has struggled to find over the last 18 months.

Just think of Cooney's wonderful solo tries against Clermont and Bath. Cooney has earned his chance, and if Farrell wants to pick his team on form, then the Ulster man is surely deserving of a jersey.    

6

Ronan Kelleher

The hooker made a wonderful start to the season with Leinster, and by Christmas he had scored seven tries in just eight appearances for the province.

Yet injury struck the 22-year-old at the wrong time, and he entered this Guinness Six Nations having played no rugby for almost two months. Now that he’s back fit and firing, Farrell must be tempted to have a closer look at the Leinster man. In his early season displays with the province, Kelleher showed a dynamism with ball in hand that made him a real threat, while his lineout work has also been solid.

With Rory Best retired, Rob Herring has filled the No 2 jersey adequately so far, but the position is still very much up for grabs long term. Kelleher could be just the man for the job.

6

Will Addison

Addison is another player who was hit by injury at the wrong time. There still remains some doubt surrounding his fitness for the remainder of the Guinness Six Nations, but if available, Addison offers the exact type of cutting edge that Farrell’s Ireland team have been missing.

It is possible that the debate over what his best position is has held Addison back, seeing him as a squad utility player rather than first team option.

The versatile Ulster man can fill a number of positions across the back-line, and whether he’s making darting runs from full-back or offering some extra zip at centre, Addison could inject some extra creativity into an Irish side that has tended to look languid and indecisive in attack.

6

Chris Farrell

Does any other area of the squad offer Andy Farrell as many high quality options as midfield? While those ahead of Munster’s Chris Farrell have rarely put a foot wrong - namely Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki - the Munster centre can probably count himself unlucky to have won just nine international caps over two years on from making his debut against Fiji.

Injuries have played their part in that - the ACL injury he sustained just days after a man-of-the-match Guinness Six Nations debut in 2018 was particularly cruel - but even when fit Farrell has struggled to make the match day squad given the quality of those ahead of him in the queue.

The argument for his inclusion lies in the fact that Andy Farrell knows precisely what Ringrose, Henshaw and Aki bring to the table. Chris Farrell offers a different type of threat, and with a new look backline around him, it would be interesting to see how he would fit into this evolving Ireland team.

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 The Line-Out airs at 10pm on Virgin Media One every Thursday throughout the Guinness Six Nations. This week, the guests will include referee Nigel Owens and pop star Una Healy. If you miss out, you can catch up on the Virgin Media Player. Every Guinness Six Nations game will also be shown live on Virgin Media Television. Please drink responsibly. To learn more, visit drinkaware.ie.

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