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Mixed reaction to Ireland XV

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Experienced Ireland XV generates mixed reaction

Ahead of what many people on social media are calling Ireland’s biggest rugby match in history, Joe Schmidt has named the most experienced side he has at his disposal for Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final versus the All Blacks.

Of the 15 that will take the field in Tokyo, 12 were members of the starting side that beat the All Blacks last November in Dublin. Iain Henderson was also on the bench that day. 

The Ulsterman replaces Devin Toner, Conor Murray starts at scrum-half instead of Kieran Marmion and Robbie Henshaw fills in for the banned Bundee Aki. Other than that, this is the team that were victorious over Steve Hansen’s side the last time they met. 

Schmidt’s selection, though, has received a mixed reaction from fans on Twitter. On the one hand, some think this is the strongest side the head coach can put out – and the one they were expecting. 

Experience goes a long way, particularly against a side as dominant as the All Blacks. Having players that know what it is like to beat them could be pivotal to victory on Saturday. 

(Continue reading below…)

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However, there are those that feel some experienced players are not the form players in their position. Peter O’Mahony and Rob Kearney have been singled out by many fans as the two players that are perhaps relying on their reputation at the moment. 

With Rhys Ruddock proving his worth so far in the back row this World Cup, as well as Jordan Larmour and Andrew Conway showing great form in the back three, Schmidt has been lambasted for depending on the older players in his squad. 

But Schmidt would be overlooking over 150 caps-worth of experience by excluding the British and Irish Lions duo, O’Mahony and Kearney. While they may not be playing at their best currently, there are pros and cons in selecting their less experienced alternatives. 

This is a situation where there would have been as much – if not more – indignation among fans had the likes of Kearney or O’Mahony been dropped. Schmidt has simply turned to experience in this situation and Ireland will hope it pays off. This is what has been said: 

Despite winning two of their last three encounters, Ireland enter this match with the All Blacks as underdogs as a number of players have dropped their standards since November. 

It would be unfair to accuse only O’Mahony and Kearney of that, as even Johnny Sexton, the 2018 World Rugby player of the year, has not been at his best. But they have already proven that they can beat the All Blacks and their coach is aware of that.

WATCH: A naked bungee, Brian O’Driscoll getting laid out in Bayonne and carrying Will Genia down the pitch… Stephen Ferris reveals all in episode three of RugbyPass Rugby World Cup Memories series

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Experienced Ireland XV generates mixed reaction