Joe Schmid’s hand has been somewhat forced, through late withdrawals and probable exhaustion of some of the Leinster and Connacht contingent, but, either by misfortune or design, he has come up with the sort of team that we’ve been hoping to see for about 18 months now.
I’m not just saying that because of the larger than normal Ulster head count, Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Paddy Jackson, Iain Henderson and Rory Best all starting and Craig Gilroy on the bench, as I would have been equally pleased to see a few of the Connacht names in there. No, I’m pleased because we are actually seeing something different from Ireland in the International arena and against quality opposition to boot.
Having said that, it’s a South African side in transition. But, everything is relevant and speaking to our friend Rob Otto over on Sharksworld the consensus appears to be that, “[It’s a] decent enough selection, but we’ll be unsettled.”
Somewhat worryingly though Rob adds, “Tight five is solid, hell of a unit. Actually, most of the back row is as well, just not too sure about blind-side but then again, there is enough grunt elsewhere in the pack.”
This was not what I was wanting to hear as I suspect our props may run out of puff early doors and it could be a slippery downward spiral from then on!
On the other hand, if Ireland do get some sort of ball, they do have a back line that can cause a lot of damage and will likely threaten the South African midfield. Unfortunately, it’s not so hot off the back foot and as I write this I’m getting worrying flashes of a big scoreline for the hosts!
Before we get to our prediction though, it would be remiss of me not to point out some intriguing match ups between Ulster and Sharks players with Willie Le Roux v Jarred Payne and Pat Lambie v Paddy Jackson perhaps the pick of the bunch. However, the head to head I’m looking forward to the most is the continuation of a battle between two young stags, Stormers’ Eben Etzebeth and Ulster’s Iain Henderson, that first took place at the 2011 Junior World Championship. Sparks, and possibly fists, will fly!
The FRU Predicts: I suspect Ireland will take a lead into the break but will be hauled back fairly early in the second half with the Springboks recording a comfortable win. 🙁
|Willie le Roux||15||Jared Payne|
|JP Pietersen||14||Andrew Trimble|
|Lionel Mapoe||13||Robbie Henshaw|
|Damian De Allende||12||Luke Marshall|
|Lwazi Mvovo||11||Keith Earls|
|Pat Lambie||10||Paddy Jackson|
|Faf de Klerk||9||Conor Murray|
|Tendai Mtawarira||1||Jack McGrath|
|Adriaan Strauss||2||Rory Best|
|Frans Malherbe||3||Mike Ross|
|Eben Etzebeth||4||Iain Henderson|
|Lood de Jager||5||Devin Toner|
|Francois Louw||6||CJ Stander|
|Siya Kolisi||7||Jordi Murphy|
|Duane Vermeulen||8||Jamie Heaslip|
|Bongi Mbonambi||16||Sean Cronin|
|Trevor Nyakane||17||Finlay Bealham|
|Julian Redelinghuys||18||Tadhg Furlong|
|Pieter-Steph du Toit||19||Ultan Dillane|
|Warren Whiteley||20||Rhys Ruddock|
|Rudy Paige||21||Kieran Marmion|
|Elton Jantjies||22||Ian Madigan|
|Jesse Kriel||23||Craig Gilroy|