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Revealing centre stats reignite Ireland World Cup squad debate

By Josh Raisey
Garry Ringrose

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After Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt announced his 44-man World Cup training squad last week, the exclusion of Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey was one of the biggest talking points.


The powerful centre had just been named in the Pro14 Dream Team, and despite never being a particularly popular figure under Schmidt, looked destined for a call-up. However, his omission behind Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, Chris Farrell and Rory Scannell has caused outrage.

Former Ulster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions flanker Stephen Ferris has joined the discussion on Twitter after McCloskey’s exclusion by sharing some stats by Enhance Performance. While Ferris did not specifically state whether he thinks his former teammate should have been selected, he pointed out that these are “interesting”.

These stats show that across the season, the 26-year-old McCloskey led those who beat him to selection in a whole host of stats.

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In fact, it was only in clean breaks and defenders beaten that he was not the leader. Furthermore, he conceded the second fewest turnovers and third fewest penalties.

However, as McCloskey did not feature on the international scene much this season, he would have amassed more games for his club, meaning the stats may be skewed. However, his stats are not too dissimilar in terms of the average performance each game, where he leads the turnovers and offloads stats.


In light of these revealing figures, fans have once again shown their exasperation that the 3-cap international has been overlooked after a standout season.

This is what has been said:

In every World Cup, there are always selections that do not please all the fans. However, there are rarely stats provided that are so flattering to a player that has been overlooked, particularly compared to some of his rivals.


However, as it has been since he made his Ireland debut in 2016, McCloskey’s face does not seem to fit in the Irish set up. Some do say that it is his positional inflexibility, as he can only really play at 12, but many others simply cannot see why.


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