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Dan Sheridan/INPHO Jack O'Donoghue and Garry Ringrose have both captained the U20s in recent years.
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Ireland squad v Canada could 'be the bedrock of the team for foreseeable future'
Who knew this Canada Test stuck in between All Black clashes would be so exciting?

UNPRECEDENTED, BRAVE AND very, very exciting.

The spirit of Soldier Field has carried through on to Joe Schmidt’s team selection for this evening’s November Test with Canada (19.15, Sky Sports 3 and RTE 2) at the Aviva Stadium.

The Kiwi sounded a little like a man whose hand had been ever so slightly forced to make sweeping changes. The impact of jet-lag and disrupted sleep in a week following the toughest test in rugby is as good a reason as any to name an all new XV.

Just six of the matchday squad from Chicago are carried over, there’ll be eight new Ireland internationals by tonight and three already-capped players will start a Test for the first time.

However, it’s a move that makes perfect sense for this in-between-lord-mayor’s-show match that buffers two clashes with the All Blacks. The bold calls also feel like a sign of confidence from Schmidt that there is a layer below his front-liners who are worthy of the green jersey.

While there are a few men in the matchday 23 who arguably – and arguments are hard to make against All Black-beaters – should be front-liners in the regular starting line-up, today’s flankers undoubtedly lead the list. With Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien in harness, Ireland have a pack of the highest pedigree to grease the wheels for the new kids.

Peter O'Mahony arrives late for the team photograph Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

O’Mahony captains the team for the first time since leading the Les Kiss-coached tour to North America before Schmidt took charge in 2013. With a Lions tour on the other side of the globe, Ireland were without their biggest names on that occasion too. So the tour gave Robbie Henshaw, Iain Henderson and Paddy Jackson a chance to bed in alongside O’Mahony.

The Corkman is effusive in his praise of the potential talent in today’s squad:

“I think you’re looking at a team that will probably be the bedrock of the team for the foreseeable future, and that’s probably what we were the last time we toured there,” says the Munster captain ahead of his third cap leading out his country.

“A lot of players have come through who got their first caps on that tour, that have really secured their places in the current Irish team.

“It’s in a healthy place but I think we’ve got to be careful. This is a big challenge and, yes, it’s a good team on paper and it’s an exciting team, but we’ve got a big challenge. We’ve got a big challenge defensively. We’ve got a big challenge to break these guys down because as I said they’re very experienced and they’ll go for 80. They’ll go for 80-plus.”

Caution is clearly advised from O’Mahony, but there really is a lot to be excited about for anyone swinging by Lansdowne Road after seven tonight. It’s the beginning of Garry Ringrose’s long-touted international career, the back three looks like a dream counter-attacking unit with Tiernan O’Halloran at its heart and Billy Holland is an excellent foil to allow Ultan Dillane go demolishing defenders on his first start for Ireland.

The game may be tight for some time – incisive attacking units usially need more than a week to gel – but at some point a tired Canada defence is going to have to deal with a fresh Niyi Adeolokun.

Niyi Adeolokun Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“It’s pure acceleration off the mark. I’ve seen him beat lads in a five-metre channel, just taking them on the outside. If he beats you he’s probably going to score,” Kieran Marmion says of the former Trinity man.

“When he gets a bit of space with the ball in his hand, he’s one of the quickest wingers out there. He gets given the ball early, given time and I’d back him to beat most defenders one-on-one.

“In Connacht we use him quite a bit, get the ball into his hands. Even in training the other day he got a chance to show a bit of his pace. he’s not afraid to try things.

“So long as he gets the ball, he’ll show people what he can do.”

There will be tries scored before Adeolokun is called upon, but Ireland have the playmakers to make sure he finds space to stretch his legs and put daylight between the sides.


15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Craig Gilroy
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Luke Marshall
11. Keith Earls
10. Paddy Jackson
9. Kieran Marmion

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1. Cian Healy
2. Sean Cronin
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Ultan Dillane
5. Billy Holland
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jack O’Donoghue


16. James Tracy
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. John Ryan
19. Donnacha Ryan
20. Dan Leavy
21. Luke McGrath
22. Joey Carbery
23. Niyi Adeolokun


15. Matt Evans
14. DTH van der Merwe
13. Conor Trainor
12. Ciaran Hearn
11. Taylor Paris
10. Connor Braid.
9.  Gordon McRorie

1. Djustice Sears-Duru
2. Ray Barkwill
3. Jake Ilnicki
4. Brett Beukboom
5. Evan Olmstead
6. Kyle Baillie
7. Lucas Rumball
8. Aaron Carpenter


16. Eric Houward
17. Rob Brouwer
18. Matt Tierney
19. Admir Cejvanovic
20. Matt Heaton
21. Phil Mack
22. Pat Parfrey
23. Phil Blevins

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