The Ireland team that should start against Argentina
The return of a rake of Grand Slam winners, and a tank from Tullow.
Argentina are coming to the end of another long, hard season but they get an early crack at Ireland in the first of the host's three Guinness Series matches.
Ireland did a number on Los Pumas last November, defeating them 28-19 as James Ryan had a cracking home debut, Jacob Stockdale scored a brace of tries and outhalf Nicolas Sanchez was successfully targeted.
Joe Schmidt and several senior players stayed behind at Carton House, last week, to prepare for Argentina and New Zealand while Simon Easterby and Andy Farrell ran the rest of the squad through their paces in Chicago. Schmidt linked up with the squad on Thursday and was at Soldier Field to oversee a 54-7 walloping of Italy.
Players to shoot up their hand for attention were Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Beirne, while Joey Carbery looked and kicked well in a fourth Test start at No.10. Andrew Porter and Quinn Roux revelled in the physical challenge of the match until an under-strength Italy wilted and gaps opened up.
As much as Larmour has got us in a tizzy, and Beirne too, we are of the same kind of Schmidt. Momentum needs to be maintained after the Grand Slam and tour win in Australia. To that end, we are going with a strong XV for Saturday evening's kick-off.
There will be few arguments with our front row - Cian Healy, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong - while James Ryan must start in the second row. Who joins him is a healthy debate and we would be happy with any one of Devin Toner, Tadhg Beirne or Iain Henderson keeping Ryan company. Our option is Toner, though.
As for the back row, we are going with Sean O'Brien to do what he does best and peak for the huge matches. His main competition would seem to be Dan Leavy, who played all 80 minutes in Port Elizabeth for Leinster against Southern Kings, and Josh van der Flier.
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Scrum-half for us is Kieran Marmion and he has delivered when called upon in the past. Sure, Joe Schmidt does not trust him as much as Conor Murray but he is our next best bet. We would have John Cooney on the bench as back-up.
Johnny Sexton wears 10 and the midfield is Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose, with Jacob Stockdale on the left and Keith Earls on the right wing. Fullback is getting close to a coin flip but we are opting for Rob Kearney. He had a fine 2017/18 and has done nothing in the green jersey of late to miss out.
Still, he took a bad shoulder knock against Treviso (as did O'Mahony against Glasgow Warriors) and we could yet see Larmour get another crack at it.
OUR IRELAND XV
Joe Schmidt will name his Ireland team to face Argentina on Thursday afternoon.Source: Google News Argentina | Netizen 24 Argentina