Ireland have named a somewhat experimental lineup for their first world cup warm-up game to this year's World Cup.
Declan Kidney must be delighted to welcome back Rob Kearney and Tomás O'Leary from their long term absences from the international scene. Kearney should return the stability and elite play to the fullback position that had been lacking since he and Geordan Murphy were simultaneously injured.
O'Leary is being given the chance to reclaim his No. 9 jersey by being paired with probable starter Jonathan Sexton. The competition at scrum-half is likely to be an intense battle between Eoin Reddan and O'Leary with Conor Murray having an outside shot after an impressive debut season with Munster.
Fergus McFadden is definitely the player to watch amongst the Irish backs however as Gordon D'Arcy's place is definitely no longer guaranteed. McFadden is a talented and versatile young player who could easily become a starter for the World Cup with a good showing leading up to the start of the competition.
Leo Cullen leads a pack of forwards that is unrecognizable from the group that started the majority of the Six Nations. Players like Mike McCarthy, Niall Ronan and Donnacha Ryan will be most likely fighting for positions on the bench with the world class starters already entrenched ahead of them.
The front row competition may be more muddled. The most notable aspect of this team is the first substitute listed on the bench—Jerry Flannery. Flannery has been battling injuries for a very long time. He is easily Ireland's most talented hooker because of his all around play on the field and quality at set pieces.
A fully fit Flannery would come as a huge boost to the Irish pack, an outing in this game would be the first step to making that a reality.
Ireland team to play Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday 5 August at 2.15pm:
15. Rob Kearney
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Fergus McFadden
12. Paddy Wallace
11. Luke Fitzgerald
10. Jonathan Sexton
9. Tomás O'Leary
1. Tom Court
2. Sean Cronin
3. Tony Buckley
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Leo Cullen (captain)
6. Mike McCarthy
7. Niall Ronan
8. Denis LeamyReplacements:
16. Jerry Flannery
17. Marcus Horan
18. John Hayes
19. Mick O'Driscoll
20. Kevin McLaughlin
21. Isaac Boss
22. Felix Jones
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