Ireland name experienced XV to face Barbarians
Leinster big guns dominate side as Ulster flanker Chris Henry returns to the national side for the first time since heart surgery
Ireland have named an experienced side to face an all-star Barbarians team at Thomond Park on Thursday night.
It’ll be exciting because when you look at what the Barbarians have brought to the table as well it can really set it up for an exciting affair, so we’ve tried to reciprocate with our selection.
The side drawn entirely from Leinster and Ulster, captained by Leinster skipper Jamie Heaslip, boasts 303 international caps with two uncapped players in Clontarf centre Colm O’Shea and Leinster prop Tadhg Furlong.
Speaking earlier this week, Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss insisted that the coaches were trying to reciprocate the spirit of BaaBaas rugby for the match in Limerick as part of the historic club’s 125th anniversary celebrations.
“We knew it was an opportunity to probably explore a few options, but also to give a some guys, who had come back into the fray more recently, a bit of a run,” Kiss told Irish Rugby TV.
“Cian Kelleher, Colm O’Shea – those types of guys – being in the environment, it’s great to see them there, but it also lives up to the spirit of what the Barbarians is about: you always like to expose a couple of good, exciting young people into the framework there.
“Overall, we want to make sure we’re covering our bases with certain players. Some will be rested, some are carrying a few little injuries, and we’re managing that to get the best mix possible.
“It’ll be exciting because when you look at what the Barbarians have brought to the table as well it can really set it up for an exciting affair, so we’ve tried to reciprocate with our selection.
“There’s a keenness by the boys to be involved in the match and bring forth their best at Thomond.”
The backline is dominated by the boys in blue as Rob Kearney and Dave Kearney are partnered in the back three by Ulster’s Craig Gilroy, who racked up 11 tries in the Guinness PRO12 this season.
O’Shea will be partnered in midfield by Ulster’s Luke Marshall, who last played for Ireland against Argentina on the 2014 summer tour, while Leinster scrum-half Eoin Reddan starts alongside team-mate Ian Madigan, who gets a chance to run the show from outside-half with the hope of cementing a place as back-up to Johnny Sexton at the Rugby World Cup.
Up front, tighthead Furlong is joined in the front row by Leinster colleagues Jack McGrath at loosehead and Richardt Strauss at hooker.
The sizable frame of Leinster’s Devin Toner is partnered in the engine room by Ulster lock Dan Tuohy.
The back row sees Ulster flanker Chris Henry return for the first time since heart surgery last year with his provincial team-mate Robbie Diack at blindside flanker and captain Heaslip at number eight.
The bench includes three uncapped players in Lansdowne and Leinster full-back Cian Kelleher, Leinster scrum-half Luke McGrath and lock Ben Marshall, who today joined Connacht from Leinster.
They are joined by Ulster outside-half Paddy Jackson, Leinster back-row forward Jordi Murphy, Ulster hooker Rob Herring, and Leinster props Michael Bent and Mike Ross.
Ireland XV: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster), Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster), Colm O’Shea (Clontarf/Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster), Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster), Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne Leinster); Jack McGrath (St Mary’s College/Leinster), Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ballymena/Ulster), Robbie Diack (Malone/Ulster), Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster, captain).
Replacements: Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Michael Bent (Dublin University/Leinster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Ben Marshall (Old Belvedere/Connacht), Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster); Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster), Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), Cian Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster).
Barbarians: Zane Kirchner (Leinster/South Africa); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Joe Rokocoko (Bayonne/New Zealand), Wynand Olivier (Montpellier/South Africa), David Smith (Toulon); Jimmy Gopperth (Leinster), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster/South Africa); Roberto Tejerizo (Tucuman/Argentina), Deon Fourie (Lyon), Adam Jones (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Rodrigo Capó Ortega (Castres/Uruguay), Konstantin Mikautadze (Toulon/Georgia), Shane Jennings (Leinster/Ireland, captain), Gerhard Vosloo (Toulon), Ryu Koliniasi Holani (Panasonic Wild Knights/Japan).
Replacements: David Ward (Harlequins), Saimone Taumoepeau (Castres/New Zealand), Matías Díaz (Pampas/Argentina), George Whitelock (Panasonic Wild Knights/New Zealand), George Smith (Lyon/Australia), Tomás Cubelli (Belgrano Ath/Argentina), Tusi Pisi (Suntory Sungoliath/Samoa), Gio Aplon (Grenoble/South Africa).