Shane Jennings to captain Barbarians against Ireland

Leinster and Ireland flanker admits he was shocked to be named as skipper against his compatriots in Limerick

Shane Jennings will captain the Barbarians against Ireland at Thomond Park on Thursday.

It means so much to the lads, guys who are seasoned pros and internationals, they understand the responsibility. I’ve always wanted to play on a Barbarians team.

Shane Jennings

The 33-year-old Leinster and Ireland flanker, who will retire after the Barbarians games against Ireland and England this week, leads an all-star team boasting 466 international caps and four uncapped players in the starting XV against an Ireland side drawn entirely from Leinster and Ulster.

Also included in the side are Jennings’ Leinster team-mate Zane Kirchner at full-back, Wasps-bound outside-half Jimmy Gopperth, who has spent the last two seasons at the RDS Arena, Ulster scrum-half Ruan Pienaar, and Cardiff Blues and Wales duo Adam Jones and Alex Cuthbert.

“It’s a huge honour,” Jennings said.

“I was quite shocked when Robbie said it. It was just an honour to be selected.

“We’re all excited to keep with the tradition, enjoy it, and understand the responsibility we have.

“It means so much to the lads, guys who are seasoned pros and internationals, they understand the responsibility. I’ve always wanted to play on a Barbarians team.”

Joining Cuthbert on the wings is Toulon’s David Smith with Joe Rokocoko and Wynard Oliver providing a powerful midfield combination.

Our guys have come together really well, they’re enjoying each other’s company, and we want to give it a fair crack.

Robbie Deans

There is plenty of power up front too with Argentine prop Roberto Tejerizo and uncapped Lyon hooker Deon Fourie joining Jones in the front row.

Toulon’s big Georgian lock Konstantin Mikautadze is in the engine room alongside Uruguay’s Rodrigo Capó Ortega, while Jennings is joined in the back row by Toulon’s Gerhard Vasloo and Japan international Ryu Koliniasi Holani at number eight, while George Smith, Australia’s most-capped forward, and former Crusaders and New Zealand flanker George Whitelock provide cover from the bench.

Despite the expectation of plenty of creative attacking plays, Barbarians head coach Robbie Deans wants his players to appreciate the responsibility of representing the famous club in its 125th year.

“We’d like to attack, but that’s the last thing Ireland will want,” Deans said.

“They’ll have a lot at stake as individuals who are aspiring to the World Cup.

“Our guys have come together really well, they’re enjoying each other’s company, and we want to give it a fair crack.

“We want to be good at the elements of the game that are routinely at the core of being a good rugby team, like taking ownership of defence.

“We want those traits to come through.”

Ireland XV: TBC

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).

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