The teams were announced yesterday for Saturday’s match between Ireland and Canada in the Autumn Series at the Aviva Stadium. Kick off 7:15 pm. Live on Sky Sports 3, RTE TWO.

With just under three years to go to the next World Cup this is more like the sort of Ireland team that I want to see, though whether we see the same youthful blend beyond this match against Canada is yet to be seen. Mind you, the absence of a single Ulster forward from this team has to be a worry. 

With perfect timing, I said in my last preview;

I was a big fan of Joe Schmidt when he first took over the Ireland coaching role but Ireland have been playing fairly poor rugby of late, if we discount a (very) small revival during the summer tour against an out of sorts South Africa.

and circumstances have certainly changed after a fired up Ireland convincingly beat the World Champions but, and I’m probably in a minority of one here, I’m still waiting to see how the rest of these Autumn Internationals pan out before I decide if I’m back on Joe’s side or not! Mind you as a staunch Remain voter and most definitely anti-Trumph I should be used to my own personal opinion being worth less and less! 🙄

I hope this is a fun match, and that the youngsters will be given their head and allowed to go out and play, as there are only so many matches you can win by sheer physical effort alone.  Now, of course, you have to put in the work, and Ireland certainly showed what’s possible if every player is prepared to put it in to the point of exhaustion, but Irish players must have something more to offer than this and I just feel that their natural, instinctive. skills have been bottled up somewhat over the last eighteen months. 

The interesting side note to this match is the return to these shores of Mark Anscombe, who seems a tad more upset about his abrupt departure from Ulster than he was when he was at Ravenhill with the Canadian A side in August, the Belfast Telegraph giving him the chance to air his grievances

It will be interesting to see how Anscombe’s side play as he did try to play rugby during his time at Ravenhill and this should be a match where he has nothing to lose, anything under a twenty point defeat being regarded as a favourable result. 

There are only six members of the Canada A squad that were involved in the friendly against Ulster A in the team below and they are missing some of their big names with Oyonnax’s Jamie Cudmore, Osprey pair Jeff Hassler and Tyler Ardron plus Bourgoin’s Andrew Tiedemann some of the full time pros that are not available. 

The FRU Predicts. Ireland should win this one and win it with something to spare, the question being by how many. If you are getting anything better than Canada +30 I’d put my money on the Canucks. 

Tiernan O’Halloran 15 Matt Evans
Craig Gilroy 14 DTH vd Merwe
Garry Ringrose 13 Conor Trainor
Luke Marshall 12 Ciaran Hearn
Keith Earls 11 Taylor Paris
Paddy Jackson 10 Connor Braid
Kieran Marmion 9 Gordon McRorie
Cian Healy 1 Djustice Sears-Duru
Sean Cronin 2 Ray Barkwill
Finlay Bealham 3 Jake Ilnicki
Ultan Dillane 4 Brett Beukeboom
Billy Holland 5 Evan Olmstead
Peter O’Mahony 6 Kyle Baillie
Sean O’Brien 7 Lucas Rumball
Jack O’Donoghue 8 Aaron Carpenter
James Tracy 16 Eric Howard
Dave Kilcoyne 17 Rob Brouwer
John Ryan 18 Matt Tierney
Donnacha Ryan 19 Admir Cejanovic
Dan Leavy 20 Matt Heaton
Luke McGrath 21 Phil Mack
Joey Carbery 22 Patrick Parfrey
Niyi Adeolokun 23 Nick Blevins