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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019

Before a high ball is launched, pick the back three players you would want in your Rugby World Cup squad

Earls or Zebo, Trimble or Gilroy, Fitzgerald or McFadden. They’re all tough calls.

Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

JOE SCHMIDT NAMED his provisional World Cup squad yesterday with 45 lucky lads included.

In a reaction to the squad announcement, we briefly discussed the competition to be found in the wing places, but the sheer volume of quality options in the back three leaves us thinking that it needs a little more room for debate.

These 10 players are the back three options included in the training squad by Schmidt.

Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster)
Simon Zebo (Cork Con/Munster)
Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
Felix Jones (Shannon/Munster)

The above 10 do not include players who are capable of playing in the back three, but have made a home elsewhere. Ian Madigan, Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw, I’m looking at you.

Who do you pick in a 31-man World Cup squad from that list?

Simon Zebo, Keith Earls and Felix Jones Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

If you’re going to England and Cardiff with an 17/14 split of forwards and backs you may have room for six or seven players to cover wing and fullback. With an 18/13 split you might have to pull that number down to five.

There is a crossover consideration here too for centre options: who are your back-ups to Henshaw and Payne. Can they play in the back three? Have you got enough fullbacks, or are the first-choice centres your cover for Rob Kearney?

Tell us who you’d give a boarding card to now and who you’d ask politely to remain on standby.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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