Ireland should start as favourites against South Africa


By , DECLAN MURPHY is a Roar Guru


58 Have your say

    Joe Schmidt has named 38 players for Ireland’s upcoming November Series. Ireland will play South Africa, Fiji and Argentina in the Aviva Stadium. The First match takes place against South Africa, on November 11th.

    There are four uncapped players in the squad, the most high profile of which is Connacht’s Bundee Aki. New Zealand-born Aki is the latest player to qualify for Ireland under the three-year residency rule. The other three new selections are Munster’s Darren Sweetnam and Chris Farrell, and Leinster’s Adam Byrne.

    The biggest omission from the squad is Simon Zebo. The Munster star has announced that he will leave the province at the end of this season to play for a French club, believed to be (though not confirmed) Racing 92 (Munster legend Ronan O’Gara is kicking coach at Racing).

    Zebo’s absence from the squad follows on from coach Schmidt’s recent announcement during the summer that he would be enforcing the rule that only players that plied their trade in Ireland would be eligible for the team.

    Included in the squad are Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony, Jonny Sexton, Conor Murray, Tadhg Furlong and Jack McGrath who all featured for the British and Irish Lions in the drawn Test series against New Zealand last summer.

    Rory Best, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander and Robbie Henshaw were also on that tour, though featured in the provincial games.

    Rob and David Kearney both return after long layoffs through injury. Players deemed out of form include the Ulster trio of Luke Marshall, Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble, and Leinster’s Sean Cronin.

    Between November of last year and now, the Ireland team famously recorded their first win against the All Blacks, and also beat Australia, France and England. But in the same time frame there were also losses conceded to New Zealand, Scotland and Wales.

    Irish rugby union player Jonathan Sexton

    (Warwick Gastinger / CC BY 2.0)

    Ireland play South Africa on November 11th. The Sprinboks had a very mixed Rugby Championship campaign, coming third in the table (out of four). They won both fixtures against Argentina, and drew both against Australia. They conceded their biggest ever defeat (57-0, against New Zealand) but in the return fixture, they only lost by a point.

    Ireland last played South Africa last summer in a three-Test series. All three games took place in South Africa. An Irish side missing a lot of their best players through injury still managed to win the first match, but lost the remaining two

    Ireland have close to their strongest team while South Africa have struggled to maintain consistent form. While the Springboks can never be underestimated, Irleand may just start as favourites. Ireland have won five out of 15 Tests against South Africa, with the Springboks winning nine and one draw.

    Ireland then play Fiji (Nov 18th) and Argentina (Nov 25th). Ireland have won all five games played against Fiji over the years. three of the games were official while two were recognised by the Fijiian Rugby Union (meaning caps were awarded to players) but not by Fiji.

    Ireland have won ten games against Argentina, out of 16, with six won by the Pumas. Argentina have never won a Test in Ireland. The last time the two countries met was in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final, in Cardiff.

    There, a strong Argentinian side thrashed Ireland, 43-20. Argentina have faced Ireland four times in the World Cup over the years, with Argentina winning three of the encounters.

    My Ireland XV for South Africa Test
    Joey Carbery
    Dave Kearney
    Robbie Henshaw
    Bundee Aki
    Keith Earls
    Jonny Sexton
    Conor Murray
    CJ Stander
    Sean O’Brien
    Peter O’Mahony
    Devin Toner
    Iain Henderson
    Jack McGrath
    Rory Best
    Tadhg Furlong

    Ireland squad For November series
    Forwards (21)

    Rory Best (Ulster) capt. 104 caps
    Jack Conan (Leinster) 4 caps
    Ultan Dillane (Connacht) 10 caps
    Tadhg Furlong (Leinster) 16 caps
    Cian Healy (Leinster) 70 caps
    Iain Henderson (Ulster) 32 caps
    Rob Herring (Ulster) 1 cap
    Dave Kilcoyne (Munster) 20 caps
    Dan Leavy (Leinster) 4 caps
    Jack McGrath (Leinster) 41 caps
    Sean O’Brien (Leinster) 49 caps
    Tommy O’Donnell (Munster) 12 caps
    Peter O’Mahony (Munster) 40 caps
    Andrew Porter (Leinster) 2 caps
    Rhys Ruddock (Leinster) 16 caps
    James Ryan (Leinster) 2 caps
    John Ryan (Munster) 9 caps
    CJ Stander (Munster) 15 caps
    Devin Toner (Leinster) 50 caps
    James Tracy (Leinster) 4 caps
    Kieran Treadwell (Ulster) 2 caps

    Backs (17)
    Bundee Aki (Connacht) uncapped
    Adam Byrne (Leinster) uncapped
    Joey Carbery (Leinster) 4 caps
    Andrew Conway (Munster) 3 caps
    Keith Earls (Munster) 62 caps
    Chris Farrell (Munster) uncapped
    Robbie Henshaw (Leinster) 29 caps
    Dave Kearney (Leinster) 16 caps
    Rob Kearney (Leinster) 76 caps
    Ian Keatley (Munster) 5 caps
    Kieran Marmion (Connacht) 16 caps
    Stuart McCloskey (UIster) 1 cap
    Luke McGrath (Leinster) 4 caps
    Conor Murray (Munster) 57 caps
    Johnny Sexton (Leinster) 66 caps
    Jacob Stockdale (Ulster) 2 caps
    Darren Sweetnam (Munster) uncapped