In the England squad there are a lot but whether they’ll start…hopefully they’ll get some game time and I think there’s that understanding you don’t win a World Cup with 15 players.
Wales was the bettors’ underdog, but to make up for eight British Lions out injured, Gatland picked 12 Scarlets and started 10.
Ireland go into the match in Paris on the back of seven successive wins, including a record 38-3 home victory against South Africa and a 28-19 victory over the Pumas.
The likely victor is probably to come from either Ireland or England, Eddie Jones’ side also having injury worries but their momentum is strong and their desire to gain revenge over Joe Schmidt’s men after last year’s encounter even stronger.
“Bundee is one of the guys to look out for”, he says.
Ireland R Kearney; K Earls, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale (F McFadden 74); J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy (J McGrath 60), R Best (capt, S Cronin 67), T Furlong (Jo Ryan 69), I Henderson, Ja Ryan (D Toner 67), P O’Mahony, J van der Flier (D Leavy 36), CJ Stander.
However, lack of discipline continued to cost Brunel’s side as yet another infraction gave Sexton the chance to restore Ireland’s six-point advantage going into the break – one he grasped with both hands. We can’t change the past so it’s about focusing on the next step, which is the Six Nations. He responded: We’ve got 13 players injured, missing some senior guys like Sean O’Brien and Jared Payne, pivotal to us the last time we won the Six Nations, and he’s only played once in the past year.
Which brings us on to England. “We gave away a few avoidable penalties”. It helps that they face Ireland at Twickenham, however the curve ball for England, and indeed the tournament, could come from Murrayfield.
So in a long-winded sort of way with a couple of reasons way I’d be keen to go for Ireland, in a sort of Eurovision kind of way – Ireland, dix points. But, they are not unbeatable. So when the game came around the final bend with France still in sight, there was cause for concern in the Irish camp.
“But from our point of view it is always about the next game, as boring as that is”.
They may well be better going down the route of a foreign coach, and look for a long-term solution to their problems.
Ireland are a well-organised side, with a very intelligent coaching staff and some very intelligent players. If Ireland subdue their pack, they can expect the victory.
“I went back to many years ago when we played Treviso away and I was in that exact same position, nearly identical situation, and I just flashed back to that”. In Conor O’Shea they have a very good coach and they now need to develop and grow.
“We felt it was one that got away if it managed to get away”.
They are second favourites‚ and are expected to make a winning start against a French outfit that hasn’t won a Test since their last match in last year’s Six Nations.