Lar­mour-Beirne poser

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Rugby -

Ire­land’s start­ing XVs for the four Novem­ber Tests were de­cided well in ad­vance. There is deep method to this era of un­recog­nis­able suc­cess. Only in­jury and oc­ca­sional bouts of magic will al­ter the mind of Joe Sch­midt. Maybe. Strip se­lec­tion cri­te­ria down to form, for­get the hi­er­ar­chy of Car­ton House or the Grand Slam pa­rade last March, even park the se­ries vic­tory in Aus­tralia and who must start against Ar­gentina?

That would be Jor­dan Lar­mour and Tadhg Beirne (above). The hockey prodigy has been nom­i­nated for World Rugby’s young player of the year while Beirne the best for­ward in Europe. Now, where to play them? Drop­ping Rob Kear­ney, Keith Earls or Ja­cob Stock­dale seems un­likely so Lar­mour is num­ber 23 de­spite an O’Driscoll-es­que hat-trick in the 21-year-old’s first start for Ire­land. As­ton­ish­ing but Sch­midt noted po­si­tional flaws. Beirne has been call­ing the Mun­ster li­ne­out this sea­son but it re­quires a big leap by Ire­land for­wards coach Si­mon Easterby to dis­lodge Devin Toner. Dis­carded a few sea­sons back, as Iain Hen­der­son part­nered with Don­nacha Ryan, Toner re­sponded with tow­er­ing con­sis­tency. Or keep them all and James Ryan by play­ing Beirne at blind­side but that means drop­ping Pe­ter O’Ma­hony. Mad­ness!

In­jury solves this prob­lem but Beirne and Lar­mour were the best play­ers in green at Sol­dier Field. Ridicu­lously, these heady times sug­gest that might not be enough for them to be re­tained. Both look un­stop­pable.

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