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The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Rugby -

Joe Sch­midt swept away the de­bris. The suc­ces­sion plan re­vealed, Andy Far­rell takes over with Sch­midt de­part­ing in Novem­ber 2019, for where we do not know. Now, as a re­ward, the “Ire­land Coach­ing Group” get an early and val­ued Christ­mas gift: The Off­load’s 2019 World Cup squad.

“They give you 31 play­ers and give you six and five day turn­arounds con­sec­u­tively,” said Sch­midt when asked re­cently how many names are pen­cilled in. “Player wel­fare wise, it’s not ideal but there­fore you need to be con­scious that you need ro­bust play­ers, play­ers who can back up week-to-week.”

The cup­board needs to be stocked in spe­cial­ist po­si­tions so five props, three of whom must be tight­heads as An­drew Porter cov­ers loose­head, and three hook­ers are guar­an­teed to travel. Un­like 2015, when Ian Madi­gan was third choice scrumhalf, John Cooney can pro­vide an emer­gency out­half op­tion and so three num­ber nines should go. That leaves Chris Far­rell, Will Ad­di­son and An­drew Con­way (in­set) scrap­ping for the 31st spot. Con­way, cur­rently, on form. The bolter four years ago was Tadhg Fur­long. The need for an extra num­ber eight – with Iain Hen­der­son and Tadhg Beirne cov­er­ing blind­side – gets Cae­lan Doris on the plane. Any­way, pay­ing no heed to in­jury, here follows the un­of­fi­cial RWC 2019 squad: Full­back/wing: R Kear­ney, J Larmour, J Stock­dale, K Earls, A Con­way. Cen­tre: Bundee Aki, Garry Rin­grose, Rob­bie Hen­shaw. Out­half: J Sex­ton, J Car­bery. Scrumhalf: C Mur­ray, L McGrath, J Cooney. Props: C Healy, J McGrath, T Fur­long, A Porter, John Ryan. Hooker: R Best, S Cronin, N Scan­nell. Locks: James Ryan, D Toner, T Beirne, I Hen­der­son. Back­row: CJ Stander, P O’Ma­hony (capt), J van der Flier, D Leavy, S O’Brien, C Doris.

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