Ireland are set to name an experimental side to face Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday – RugbyPass understands.
Italy have in the past served as a pre-World Cup warm-up match in which Ireland have experimented. The then Eddie O’Sullivan coached men in green came infamously close to a loss against the Italians in Ravenhill in 2007.
A last gasp, controversial Ronan O’Gara try was all that stood between the sides on that occasion, saving the blushes for all concerned.
On Monday Ultan Dillane and Rory Scannell were both returned to their provinces as the squad was whittled down to 43.
A source close to the Ireland camp has disclosed to RugbyPass what the likely starting fifteen to play Italy is and it includes a host of new combinations, which will see several of Ireland’s less experienced internationals getting a pre-Rugby World Cup run out.
Saturday’s match may well be the last opportunity for many of the players involved to make a case for inclusion ahead the confirmation of Schmidt’s 31-man squad.
In the front row loosehead Jack McGrath will partner Rob Herring at hooker and Andrew Porter at tighthead. Returning from injury, veteran Devin Toner will join South African born Munsterman and Irish debutant Jean Kleyn in a new look engine room.
In the backrow, one of either blindside Rhys Ruddock or Tadhg Beirne with partner Tommy O’Donnell at seven and Jordi Murphy at No.8.
At halfback Luke McGrath and Joey Carbery rekindle their former Leinster partnership, while Chris Farrell and Garry Ringrose make up a solid midfield.
In the back three Andrew Conway and David Kearney will join Leinster tyro Jordan Larmour who starts at fullback.
Head coach Joe Schmidt will not be there to witness the game due as he flew to New Zealand yesterday following a family bereavement.
Probable Ireland XV vs Italy
Rhys Ruddock or Tadhg Beirne
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