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Ireland want players to 'earn the right' to force changes to World Cup XV

Skills coach Richie Murphy says Ireland’s coaching staff are judging players on their training performances.

Murray Kinsella reports from St. George’s Park

THERE WILL BE changes aplenty when Joe Schmidt names his Ireland team to face Romania on Friday afternoon, but the Kiwi head coach will feel that every one of the new faces has earned their place.

Paddy Jackson Paddy Jackson at training in St. George's Park yesterday. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Schmidt judges players on their training performances almost as intensely as their displays on match day. Skills sessions, video analysis, gym work and the squad training on the pitch; all of those factors help to form Schmidt’s opinions of the individual.

The competition in Ireland’s squad is strong, even when there appear to be many players nailed down as first-choice starters. Schmidt would expect nothing less than a fight for places, as skills and kicking coach Richie Murphy explains:

I think the big thing is that you want guys to earn the right to play. That’s being judged in training because some guys aren’t playing matches.

“The guys that are in the squad, everyone has trained really hard, everyone is dying to get a sniff of getting a start or getting into the matchday 23.

“That’s something we’re looking at and we’re conscious of. If the players are in the right frame of mind and they put themselves forward, they’ll get their opportunity.

Peter O'Mahony, Cian Healy, Mike Ross, Paul O'Connell, Rob Kearney and Vinny Hammond Paul O'Connell and the troops arrive in. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“The big thing for us is we feel we have a very strong 31 and that everyone has something to add to the environment and onto the playing field. There will be opportunity for some of those guys and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens at the weekend.”

Ireland’s players will already know who has earned the right at this stage of course. Men like Devin Toner, Donnacha Ryan, Nathan White, Eoin Reddan and Chris Henry are likely to get their starting chances.

Romania showed competitiveness last night against France, although Philippe Saint-André’s side were comfortable in the end, scoring five tries in their 38-11 victory. The scrum performance by the Romanians will be of chief concern.

That said, the expectation is that Lynn Howells’ men will show signs of an understand fatigue against Ireland on Friday. Murphy, Schmidt and the rest of the Ireland squad are simply looking at the things they can control.

Joe Schmidt Schmidt will make several changes this weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I think we just have to look at ourselves and try to build for what we’re doing. We looked at the (Canada) game at the weekend, looked back in detail. We felt that there were some things we did very well and loads of things we can still improve on.

“From our point of view, going into this match at the weekend, we want to take another step, another step forward. Things like making sure our set-piece is really strong, making sure that our pass quality is good and that we’re good around the breakdown area is the key thing.

We have to set our own standards and see where that gets us to. We’ve done a lot of analysis on Romania and they’re very strong in the front five. They could cause us problems in that area and they’ve got a couple of nice backs as well.

“We’ve got to look at the challenge at hand and try to set our own standards and go from there.”

What Ireland XV would you like to see Schmidt name tomorrow afternoon?

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Murray Kinsella

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