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Ireland should start as favourites against South Africa




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    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

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    The Crowd Says (58)

    • Roar Rookie

      November 8th 2017 @ 3:53am
      Riaan Hendricks said | November 8th 2017 @ 3:53am | ! Report

      Offcause Ireland should be favourites, in fact I suspect the Irish to win.

    • Roar Rookie

      November 8th 2017 @ 3:56am
      Riaan Hendricks said | November 8th 2017 @ 3:56am | ! Report

      …..suspect the Irish will win. English may not be my first language, I’m determined to write it’s perfect grammar.

      • November 8th 2017 @ 7:37am
        crocodile said | November 8th 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

        Then it’s is its. English is rather confounding.

    • November 8th 2017 @ 4:06am
      Phast Phil said | November 8th 2017 @ 4:06am | ! Report

      Amazing that they beat Australia, AB’s, England and France in the same season Clearly it has never happened before given they had never beaten the All Blacks.

      They should win by 10-15 points. Impressive across the forwards and backs, and well coached.

    • Roar Guru

      November 8th 2017 @ 4:59am
      Harry Jones said | November 8th 2017 @ 4:59am | ! Report

      The polite little Boklings will be underdogs. Anything less than a convincing victory by a fresh and clever Ireland (with a 2:1 cap advantage) should be considered a huge setback for Schmidt.

      On the other hand, if the SA pack plays with the same mongrel it did in Cape Town versus the mighty mighty All Blacks, and if Pollard steers the ship, it’ll be SA comfortably by 7-10 points.

      • Roar Guru

        November 8th 2017 @ 7:40am
        Colm said | November 8th 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

        Where do you see the Springboks having the edge, Harry?

        I think these two teams are the two most inconsistent teams in world rugby. Ireland are like France from 6 years ago. They have beaten Australia, New Zealand and England in the last 12 months, but have also lost to Scotland and Wales.

        I’m nervous, it seems like the first time ever Ireland have gone into a match against the Springboks as favourites.

        • November 8th 2017 @ 10:21am
          Fionn said | November 8th 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

          Springboks have the better tight 5, in my opinion, Ireland have the better back-row. Furlong is the only who who is arguably as good as his Bok counterpart, in my opinion. Second row the Boks are so far ahead (as good as Ireland’s locks are) and Best is as outclassed by Marx as Moore is.

          Pretty confused as to why Vermuelen wasn’t brough back into the team as apparently he is fit again. 6-7-8 of du Preez/PSDT – Kolisi – Vermuelen is as good as the one Ireland can put out.

          But without Vermuelen Ireland will have the edge in the back-row and 9-15.

          • Roar Guru

            November 9th 2017 @ 5:15am
            Colm said | November 9th 2017 @ 5:15am | ! Report

            Agree about the 6-7-8 options. Not sure why Cassiem is picked at 8, considering they have the likes of Du Preez, Augustus, Vermuelen and Liebenberg to pick from.

            I’m not so sure about Du Toit/Mostert being far ahead of Henderson. Henderson is one of the most underrated lock forwards by Southern Hemisphere rugby fans. I know every player looks world-class in their highlight reel, but very few forwards(not to mind 120 kg second-rowers)can carry and offload the ball like him. His carry against Saracens in this video is special.

            • November 9th 2017 @ 7:57am
              Fionn said | November 9th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

              Didn’t say du Preez/PSDT – Kolisi – Vermuelen is better than what Ireland can put out, but I think the back-rows are balanced on paper and it would come down to who played better on the day.

              • Roar Guru

                November 9th 2017 @ 10:33am
                Colm said | November 9th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

                I was referring to “the Second row the Boks are so far ahead ” comment. Etzebeth is ahead, but the rest are on a par with Iain Henderson.

              • Roar Guru

                November 9th 2017 @ 10:40pm
                Harry Jones said | November 9th 2017 @ 10:40pm | ! Report


                Etzebeth, PSDT, Lood, and Mostert would all get top dollar in European rugby. Lood made many RWC Team of Tournament teams in the U.K. press, and PSDT is an elite player who could easily walk into Saracens ahead of former Stormer Michael Rhodes. Mostert was one of the best locks in Super Rugby (top LO stealer).

            • November 9th 2017 @ 9:47am
              Bakkies said | November 9th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

              Which du Preez? Jean-Luc du Preez was ruled out weeks ago.

              • Roar Guru

                November 9th 2017 @ 10:36am
                Colm said | November 9th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

                I was talking about the selection of Cassiem in general this year, not just for this tour.

          • November 10th 2017 @ 4:14am
            Cathal said | November 10th 2017 @ 4:14am | ! Report

            You lost me when you said the Springbok tighthead is as good as Furlong.

        • Roar Guru

          November 8th 2017 @ 9:42pm
          Harry Jones said | November 8th 2017 @ 9:42pm | ! Report


          Ireland has a far superior coaching group, and they play smarter than SA.

          The only “edge” the Boklings can have on any given day is physical (small but real margins in power and pace). Etzebeth, Oosthuizen, Lood, PSDT, Marx, Kitshoff coming around the corner at speed …

          But Ireland will have a better plan, and a vastly superior scrumhalf!!!

          • November 9th 2017 @ 12:05am
            Sgt Pepperoni said | November 9th 2017 @ 12:05am | ! Report

            Ireland 1-10 look outstanding. Lot’s of lions caps in there. Should be a cracking game

          • Roar Guru

            November 9th 2017 @ 5:23am
            Colm said | November 9th 2017 @ 5:23am | ! Report

            I’d agree with that but I think Springboks best bet, might be to put some width on the ball. Gelant, Leyds could do some serious damage to the KEARNEY BROS(Having said that, I was a big, number 8 and I’d fancy myself to take them on the outside.)

            • November 9th 2017 @ 8:14am
              Fionn said | November 9th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

              I disagree, I think they need to play 10 man rugby and dominate up front.

              The Bok backline was so awful in the RC. The Boks forwards won the contests against the Wallabies both times and against the All Blacks in Cape Town and the Boks managed to win none of those matches based purely on how ineffective their backline was.

              • Roar Guru

                November 9th 2017 @ 10:29am
                Colm said | November 9th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

                Ireland are renowned for trying to dominate the tackle area(2-3 tacklers on one carrier), but often this comes at the expense of width in defense. Ireland’s three losses last year(to Scotland, New Zealand, Wales) came to teams that put a lot of width on the ball and they exposed our narrow defense.

                The Bok backline weren’t great in TRC, but Gelant and Am are big talents and could cause Ireland’s back-three(especially Kearney) big problems.

                I just can’t see the Springboks dominating Ireland physically. With the exceptions of Marx and Etzebeth, Ireland are more powerful across the pitch.

                1. Cian Healy is stronger physically than both Springbok looseheads.
                3. Oosthuizen is 3 kg heavier but isn’t as explosive in contact as Furlong.
                5. Henderson doesn’t give anything away power-wise, to Mostert/Du Toit/ De Jager
                6. O’Brien vs Kolisi/ Louw. Sean O’Brien is pound-for-pound one of the strongest men in World Rugby
                7 Ruddock/O’Mahony vs Du Toit/Kolisi. Ruddock/O’Mahony have advantage in the closer-in stuff. Advantage Kolisi for the wider out stuff.
                8 Stander/Conan vs Cassiem/Louw. Only one winner there.
                9,10 Advantage Sexton+Murray
                11. Stockdale is 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in) and had to lose weight as he was apparently 108 kg aged 18.
                12. Stuart McCloskey/ Bundee Aki are bigger/more physical than De Allende.
                13. Henshaw is much bigger than Kriel/Am/
                14 & 15 are even-stevens.

              • Roar Guru

                November 9th 2017 @ 10:42pm
                Harry Jones said | November 9th 2017 @ 10:42pm | ! Report

                Healy v Kitshoff? Not sure. Probably even.

                Furlong v Oosthuizen in contact? I WANNA SEE THAT!!! Hahaha

                But I really want to see Wilco Louw become a rich man as he shows his power in 2H.

              • Roar Guru

                November 9th 2017 @ 10:50pm
                Harry Jones said | November 9th 2017 @ 10:50pm | ! Report

                And I have yet to see PSDT driven back by anyone, ever

              • November 9th 2017 @ 10:44am
                Fionn said | November 9th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

                Yeah, but that doesn’t help if the centres cannot pass the ball, and the ball has continually gotten stuck in the centres. Plus, the outside backs are so, so poor.

                At the end of the day, however, I expect South Africa to be ahead in both the line out and the scrum. Overall the front-row of the Boks are stronger in the scrum and around the park if only because Marx is such a beast and Best is well past his best. I also think you underrate the Boks’ props.

                Second row the locking pair of Eben + either PSDT or de Jager is, overall, much more powerful than Ireland’s. I also disagree that de Jager and PSDT don’t individually provide more power Hendo. Hendo is more mobile for sure, but I don’t think he can match them for power.

                Without Vermuelen it is advantage Ireland in the back-row for sure, despite the fact O’Mahony hasn’t been in great form.

                If the Springboks try and go wide their outside backs will likely fail to get the ball often enough, and even when they do they have offered little in the way of the attack.

                The Boks’ forward pack beat up the All Blacks in Cape Town and it was their backs who messed it up. If a pack is capable of beating up the All Blacks then they’re capable of dominating Ireland up front. Ireland has the vastly better 6-15.

                Not saying they will necessarily win playing 10 man rugby, only that they are almost definitely guaranteed to lose if they try and play expansively. Keeping it tight and trying to win it in the forwards and off the set piece at least gives them Boks a chance.

          • November 10th 2017 @ 4:15am
            Cathal said | November 10th 2017 @ 4:15am | ! Report

            At the same time if Ireland play like they did in Chicago than SA might aswell not show up no matter how they play.

            • Roar Guru

              November 10th 2017 @ 5:02am
              Harry Jones said | November 10th 2017 @ 5:02am | ! Report


              I think what all fans really hope for is: SA plays like they did in Cape Town vs ABs and Ireland plays as it did in Chicago …

              Ireland would win, but it’d be a helluva match !

    • Roar Guru

      November 8th 2017 @ 6:23am
      Armand van Zyl said | November 8th 2017 @ 6:23am | ! Report

      “Ireland should start as favourites against South Africa”

      I don’t think they should start as favourites, they will start as favourites. The game is in Ireland, where Ireland have a good record against the Springboks. Ireland is currently ranked number 4 in the world while South Africa is ranked number 5. Of the last 10 encounters between Ireland and South Africa, the results read 5 wins to each. Plus the Springboks of 2015-2017 are most likely the worst in history over a sustained period. Ireland on the other hand have developed into a very impressive team with heaps of potential.

      The smart money will be on Ireland and rightfully so.

      No matter which way you want to slice it, the Springboks have become a “middle team” of the top order, capable of a solid performance here and there but not to be taken seriously on a consistent basis. New Zealand (or at least a good part of it) will talk us up because we have history and share probably the best relationship of all international teams in the game, but even they know that England, Ireland and Australia offer a much greater challenge than we do.

      So we gave them a good run in Cape Town, so what? The Wallabies managed to beat them in Bledisloe 3. Ireland have recently beaten them and have given them a good run in all games played since 2013. If New Zealand played against England this weekend, I’d imagine most neutrals could see either side winning.

      Can South Africa beat Ireland? Maybe if we play like we played in Cape Town, but if history’s anything to go by we’ll most likely not exhibit that same kind of energy since we only play that way when we have a point to prove.

      It isn’t about claiming the underdog tag. I’ll honestly just be surprised if we win on Saturday.

      • Roar Guru

        November 8th 2017 @ 7:29am
        Corne Van Vuuren said | November 8th 2017 @ 7:29am | ! Report

        We are part of the pack now Armand, our 75% win record vs the European teams will slowly drift away into mediocrity. The signs have been there for a number of years now, since 2014 by memory we have lost more than we have won in Europe.

        Our selection policies isn’t going away. The big Afrikaners will do,inate our packs for the foreseeable future , but our back lines will get smaller and smaller.

        • November 8th 2017 @ 3:53pm
          Fionn said | November 8th 2017 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

          Disagree, biltongbek. If SARU hire Ackermann after the 2019 RWC you may very well go on to win a home world cup in 2023.

          I don’t know what you think about Jake White, but I listened to an interview with him a month or two ago and he thought it was totally possible to achieve transformation and also be the best team in the world. He didn’t sound particularly keen on quotes or SARU politics, but I seriously think South Africa isn’t far away from being a world force and challenging New Zealand again.

          • November 9th 2017 @ 3:47am
            Fitzy said | November 9th 2017 @ 3:47am | ! Report

            Jake and Eddie got sacked for bringing home the RWC. Jake never played quota’s, so that’s an about turn. He felt he could not betray his boys and good on Jake he stuck by them

            • November 9th 2017 @ 7:58am
              Fionn said | November 9th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

              Jake achieved the best record of transformation of any of the coaches from what I’ve read.

              I’m not saying that he necessarily agreed with quotas, but that he thought transformation was achievable AND the Boks could be the best in the world.

            • November 9th 2017 @ 8:15am
              Fionn said | November 9th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

              What did Jake White do to make SARU dislike him so much?

              • Roar Guru

                November 9th 2017 @ 8:30am
                Corne Van Vuuren said | November 9th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

                He refused to be dictated to, he stood up to the SARU and Political pressure numerous times when the forced selections on him

              • November 9th 2017 @ 8:33am
                riddler said | November 9th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

                fionn i am not privy to the inside..

                and as disclaimer i wanted him before ewen..

                but from what i hear the guy does have a feel of teflon when things don’t go well and is therefore is not that wanted..

                he applied for nearly all of the international gigs after he had his rest after 2007 but was accepted by none.. even italy rejected him..

                so there has to be something not quite right there..

              • November 9th 2017 @ 8:37am
                Fionn said | November 9th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

                Interesting responses, gentlemen. I must say I was interested in him as a potential Wallabies coach in the future as I was amazed by the stunning turnaround the Brumbies made under him.

    • Roar Guru

      November 8th 2017 @ 6:31am
      Corne Van Vuuren said | November 8th 2017 @ 6:31am | ! Report

      To be fair most of the home unions should be favourites, the Springboks don’t have a backline, there isn’t one player in the backline that will make any other top 8 nation squad

      • November 8th 2017 @ 6:55am
        Fionn said | November 8th 2017 @ 6:55am | ! Report

        Pollard is pretty good, BB.

        As it is I think Ireland are favourites but not so far ahead as some of you Saffas seem to think. You’re right about the lack of a backline. The Boks just need to try and suffocate their opponents through the forwards and defence rather like the 07-09 team did.

        • Roar Guru

          November 8th 2017 @ 9:50am
          PeterK said | November 8th 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

          I also think Jesse Kriel would be in strong consideration of making a couple of the top 8 teams.