Tbilisi Cup 2015: Allen Clarke names Emerging Ireland side to face Italy
Leinster flanker Rhys Ruddock is one of three senior capped players in the starting XV for the opening-day clash
Allen Clarke and Girvan Dempsey have named their starting XV for Emerging Ireland’s opening match of the Tbilisi Cup against Emerging Italy at the Avchala Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
All four Irish provinces are represented throughout the match-day squad led by Leinster flanker Rhys Ruddock, who also captained the side at the tournament two years ago.
The game against Emerging Italy provides an opportunity for these players to illustrate to us how well they have prepared and their ability to cope within this challenging environment.
Joining him in the back row are provincial team-mates Dan Leavy on the openside and Jack Conan at number eight.
The second row sees Connacht’s newly-signed lock Ben Marshall pair up with Munster’s Billy Holland.
The front row sees Connacht loosehead prop Deenis Buckley, who was named in the 2015 Guinness PRO12 Dream Team, joined by two senior capped players in Ulster hooker Rob Herring and Munster tighthead prop Stephen Archer.
Northampton Saints outside-half JJ Hanrahan is given the reins in the backline with Leinster’s Luke McGrath at scrum-half.
Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey starts at inside centre with London Irish’s Eoin Griffin outside him.
Connacht full-back Tiernan O’Halloran is joined in the back three by provincial team-mate Matt Healy, who starts on the left wing, with Munster winger Andrew Conway on the right wing.
The Galway-based club also provide five of the eight replacements with hooker Dave Heffernan, prop Andrew Browne, lock Finlay Bealham and flanker Eoghan Masterson joined by scrum-half John Conney.
Versatile Munster Academy back Rory Scannell, Ulster prop Andrew Warwick and full-back Peter Nelson complete the replacements.
“In the short period we have been together we have had a very positive response from the players,” Clarke said.
“The game against Emerging Italy provides an opportunity for these players to illustrate to us how well they have prepared and their ability to cope within this challenging environment.”
Emerging Ireland return to the Tbilisi Cup for the first time since finishing as runners-up in 2013, with hosts Georgia and Uruguay also taking part in the four-team tournament.
Emerging Ireland: Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht); Andrew Conway (Munster), Eoin Griffin (London Irish), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Matt Healy (Connacht); JJ Hanrahan (Northampton Saints), Luke McGrath (Leinster); Denis Buckley (Connacht), Rob Herring (Ulster), Stephen Archer (Munster), Ben Marshall (Connacht), Billy Holland (Munster), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster, captain), Dan Leavy (Leinster), Jack Conan (Leinster).
Replacements: Dave Heffernan (Connacht), Andrew Warwick (Ulster), Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Andrew Browne (Connacht), Eoghan Masterson (Connacht); John Cooney (Connacht), Rory Scannell (Munster), Peter Nelson (Ulster).
Emerging Italy: Alberto Chiesa (Cammi Calvisano, captain); Filippo Guarducci (Marchiol Mogliano), Roberto Quartaroli (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma), Giovanni Massaro (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma), Gabriele di Giulio (Cammi Calvisano); Carlo Canna (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma), Simone Marinaro (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma); Federico Zani (Petrarca Padova), Luca Bigi (Petrarca Padova), George Iacob (Petrarca Padova), Federico Ruzza (Rugby Viadana 1970), Filippo Gerosa (Rugby Viadana 1970), Matteo Corazzi (Marchiol Mogliano), Emiliano Caffini (Femi CZ Rugby Rovigo Delta), Maxime Mbanda (Cammi Calvisano).
Replacements: Oliviero Fabiani (Zebre Rugby), Giuseppe di Stefano (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma), Pietro Ceccarelli (Macon Rugby), Alessio Zdrilich (Cammi Calvisano), Mirko Amenta (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma); Simone Parisotto (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma), Giovanni Benvenuti (Marchiol Mogliano), Sebastian Negri (Hartpury RFC).
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)