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6 Nations

Farrell: Stockdale And Moore Ready To Grasp Ireland ‘A’ Chance

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For tighthead prop Moore, who won the last of his 10 Ireland caps in 2015, he has worked his way back into the Ireland reckoning through his consistent form at provincial level.

The Dubliner will be keen to make his mark off the bench at the RDS, while Stockdale has recovered from an ankle injury to don the green jersey, albeit the ‘A’ one, for the first time since playing against Japan in July 2021.

Andy Farrell says Stockdale’s start on the left wing – he will be up against the Chiefs’ Shaun Stevenson – is just reward for his strong start to the season in Ulster colours.

“We all know that Jacob’s been out injured for quite some time. There’s a few lads that have staked their place pretty well over the last 12 months, but Jacob coming back at the start of the season has shown a lot of hunger, in my eyes,” insisted the Ireland head coach.

“Looking at his performances, and I know that he’s not played for a couple of weeks, but his hunger at the start of the season, how he attacked the season, shows me the fight and the want to get his spot back.

“So, he gets the opportunity to show us how he’s going to push forward with the rest of the season.”

Ireland A Tickets On Sale

Moore will provide back-up to his Ulster front row colleague, Tom O’Toole, who started both of Ireland’s summer tour games against the Māori All Blacks, along with Munster’s Jeremy Loughman at loosehead.

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has dubbed the 31-year-old Moore ‘one of the top scrummagers around in Ireland’, and his recent displays for McFarland’s men would certainly back up that view.

“With Marty, I think he’s been ever-present and consistently very good for Ulster,” acknowledged Farrell. “I think he’s been the cornerstone of the Ulster pack for the last few years, actually.

“You look at his last game, he was man-of-the-match against Munster. He’s earned the right to deserve his chance to show his worth to his peers within the squad.”

It has been a long road back to earning an Ireland recall. Moore’s rugby journey has taken him from his native Leinster in 2016 to two injury-interrupted seasons with Wasps, and then back into the Irish system with Ulster in 2018.

He was involved in Farrell’s first ever Ireland training squad three years ago, and while still aspiring to make a return to international rugby, he said last year that ‘it’s not really part of my goal-setting and objectives’.

The two-time Six Nations winner may have to reset those goals if Friday night goes well and he can work his way back into the Irish front row ranks on a regular basis.

“I didn’t expect to be in an Irish squad, if I’m honest. The opportunity to play rugby as close to top level is something special, whether it’s an interpro game, European rugby, or an ‘A’ game with Ireland,” commented Moore.

“An ‘A’ international is as close as it comes to Test match rugby. It’s something I’ll grab with both hands – and hopefully get a good hit out on Friday.”

The All Blacks XV are New Zealand Rugby’s newest team, and their inaugural matchday squad features eight capped players, including the returning Damian McKenzie who joins vice-captain TJ Perenara – the team’s elder statesman at 30 – at half-back.

There are a combined 14 representatives from the Chiefs and the Crusaders, with six of the forwards hailing from the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific champions. Head coach Leon MacDonald is expecting ‘a huge challenge from a top tier, physical Ireland ‘A’ team’.

While they have not played before as a collective, seven of the All Blacks XV squad saw action for the Māori All Blacks during the summer. Analysis of their Super Rugby exploits will also aid the Ireland ‘A’ preparations.

“We’ve got plenty of information about the opposition as individuals. The lads will be well across that. They sure know the experience that they’ve got in their side,” explained Farrell.

“The amount of caps that they’ve got with the captain (42-times capped lock Patrick Tuipulotu) there, and with (Damian) McKenzie and (TJ) Perenara, etc. We know the experience that they’ve got and what they’re going to show.

We also know that our lads watch plenty of Super Rugby, so that these lads they’re playing against on Friday night are the next cabs on the rank as far as the All Blacks side is concerned.

“Their depth is pretty deep as well, so we know that they are going to be very strong and a big step up from the Māori game.

“At the same time, our lads came in last Sunday and they’ve had a couple of training sessions. We expect them to be up to speed, so most of the concentration has been on ourselves in that regard.”

The Ireland coaches are challenging the players selected, led by captain Craig Casey, to lay down a marker and alter the pecking order as selection draws nearer for the 2023 Guinness Six Nations, and the Rugby World Cup in the longer term.

That is the case for the more experienced cohort, as well as the exciting youngsters back for more from the Emerging Ireland tour, and those who have graced the Test arena already on a handful of occasions.

There is the carrot of potential involvement against Fiji in the second Test of the Bank of Ireland Nations, with Farrell underlining: “It’s their chance to show the fight on Friday night and to show that they’re ready for the big stage.

There’s an opportunity for them to show that they’re able to handle the big stage and hopefully that transfers to a cap for a few of them.

“We get to see who is serious about wanting to be in the room, not just for the medium or long term, which some of these guys obviously are, but for the short term as well.”

The Wigan native continued: “Come the Six Nations, we want a big headache as coaching staff of making sure that we understand that we have grown the pool and it’s one of a very competitive nature regarding Six Nations selection.

“This is why we’re doing it. This is the whole point, to make sure that everyone…we’ve had 50 lads in the same room all week, they’re all looking across the room at each other and they know who the competition is.

“It doesn’t really matter whether you class yourself as a senior player or a new kid on the block, we’ll see who has got the hunger from the experience that they’ve had all week.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


6 Nations

‘It’s A Great Appointment’ – Farrell On Murphy’s Move To Ulster

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With Dan McFarland stepping down as Ulster head coach this week, it has been confirmed that Murphy will take over the role on an interim basis following the conclusion of the Under-20 Six Nations Championship.

The Ireland Under-20s are in title contention again thanks to two opening wins, with Murphy having overseen back-to-back U-20 Grand Slam successes and a World Rugby U-20 Championship final appearance in the last two seasons.

Farrell first worked alongside Murphy when they were defence coach and skills and kicking coach respectively, during Joe Schmidt’s coaching reign with Ireland.

The pair have kept up a strong connection with Murphy continuing for a short while as a specialist kicking resource for the senior squad, and the Under-20s often training with Farrell’s men during the Six Nations window.

“I think it’s a great appointment. I think Richie will do a fantastic job (at Ulster), his rugby knowledge is second to none,” commented Farrell.

“He is a very experienced guy that has been an assistant for quite some time and I know that he worked with us for a short period before we went to the Under-20s, but that was his next step to take that type of mantle on and do it his way.

He has certainly done a fantastic job. I mean, coaching the Under-20s is coaching in its purest form, it’s bloody difficult because of the swapping and changing the whole time each year.

“It shows exactly the quality that he’s got and his knowledge of the whole game. I think the players up at Ulster there will love him.

“His attitude is great but first and foremost I think they will respect his knowledge, definitely.”

McFarland was in charge of Ulster since 2018 and guided them to the PRO14 final two years later. They looked to be finding form again with a trio of wins over Racing 92, Connacht, and Leinster, coming into the New Year.

However, last Sunday’s poor 19-17 defeat at the Ospreys was their third loss in a row, leaving them eighth in the BKT United Rugby Championship, and came just a few weeks after failing to reach the last 16 of the Investec Champions Cup.

Assistant coach Dan Soper will take the reins for their next URC fixture at home to the Dragons on Saturday week, before Murphy comes on board for their two-match tour to South Africa where they will play the Hollywoodbets Sharks and the DHL Stormers.

The Bray man will have to quickly get up to the speed as the Ulstermen then travel to Montpellier in the EPCR Challenge Cup’s round of 16, just after Easter. Given the people involved, Farrell is confident they can turn things around at Kingspan Stadium.

“Look, it’s obvious that we want all the provinces playing at the top of their game. If that happens, it’s a special place to be but it doesn’t tend to happen that often, does it?

“One thing I know for sure is that Ulster have got a fantastic squad and good people up there. The lads that we have within our squad are exemplary to the province, as far as their attitudes are concerned whether they’re playing or not.”

A dislocated toe, suffered during that loss to the Ospreys, means Iain Henderson is unavailable for Ireland’s clash with Wales on Saturday. His Ulster colleague, Stuart McCloskey, is one of only two backs on the hosts’ bench as they opt to return to a six-two split.

New-look Wales, who lost their first two games to Scotland and England by a combined three points, come to Dublin with a squad that has accumulated 662 caps, compared to Ireland’s 1012.

119 of those caps are provided by George North alone, while 21-year-old Exeter Chiefs lock Dafydd Jenkins continues as captain, and Cardiff back rower Mackenzie Martin could make his debut off the bench.

Asked what he is expecting from Wales this weekend, Farrell replied: “Playing against Wales, you know it’s always going to be a scrap.

“You know that every single time Wales play against Ireland, it means probably a little bit more to them, I’ve been told (that) over the years.

“So we’re aware of that, and we also know as well that Wales historically have got better throughout the competition.

“We’re five weeks into it come the weekend, from when we first started training. We know that they’ll be better and hopefully we’ve used our time wisely as well.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

Wales team to face Ireland in Dublin named

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Senior men’s head coach Warren Gatland has named the Wales side to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in the third round of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations on Saturday 24 February (KO 2.15pm live on ITV and S4C).

There is one change to the starting XV that played England at Twickenham on 10 February, with Sam Costelow returning for Wales at fly half.

Among the replacements back-row Mackenzie Martin is in line to win his first senior cap this weekend and would become the 1,200th Wales men’s international.

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Tight-head prop Dillon Lewis would be making his first appearance of this Championship if called on from the bench.

Gatland said: “We are excited to go out to Dublin and test ourselves against one of the leading sides in world rugby. It’s a challenge we are relishing.

“We’ve made steps in the last couple of games and now it’s about building on that, learning from those experiences and taking that into this weekend.

“It’s about continuing to work hard, looking for accuracy in our performance across 80 minutes and also keeping our discipline.”

Wales senior men’s team to play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in the Guinness Six Nations, Saturday 24 February KO 2.15pm GMT. Live on ITV and S4C.
15. Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 56 caps)
13. George North (Ospreys – 119 caps)
12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 34 caps)
11. Rio Dyer (Dragons – 16 caps)
10. Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 9 caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 55 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 27 caps)
2. Elliot Dee (Dragons – 48 caps)
3. Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Rugby – 4 caps)
4. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 14 caps) Captain / Capten
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 53 caps)
6. Alex Mann (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 15 caps)
8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 45 caps)

Replacements

16. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 40 caps)
17. Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Rugby – 8 caps)
18. Dillon Lewis (Harlequins – 54 caps)
19. Will Rowlands (Racing 92 – 30 caps)
20. Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 19 caps)
22. Ioan Lloyd (Scarlets – 4 caps)
23. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby – 8 caps)

Images & Content – Wales Rugby


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6 Nations

Jager and Ahern Join Ireland Squad Ahead Of Wales

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The Ireland squad re-assembled in Dublin on Sunday evening ahead of this weekend’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations Round 3 clash against Wales at Aviva Stadium (Kick-off 2.15pm).

Prop Oli Jager has joined the squad and Thomas Ahern has also linked up with Andy Farrell‘s side at the IRFU High Performance Centre this week.

Iain Henderson picked up a foot injury during Ulster’s URC game away to Ospreys on Sunday and there will be a further update later in the week.

The Ireland Match Day Squad to face Wales at Aviva Stadium will be named on Thursday at 2pm.

Ireland Squad – Wales Week: 

Backs (15):

Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht)
Harry Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster)
Jack Crowley (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster)
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster)
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
James Lowe (Leinster)
Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/Ulster)
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster)
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster)
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster)

Forwards (21):

Thomas Ahern (Shannon/Munster)*
Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster)
Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster)
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
Iain Henderson (Academy/Ulster)
Oli Jager (Munster)*
Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Jeremy Loughman (Garryowen/Munster)
Joe McCarthy (Dublin University/Leinster)
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)(captain)
Tom O’Toole (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster)
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster)
Dan Sheehan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Tom Stewart (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Nick Timoney (Banbridge/Ulster)
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster)

*Denotes uncapped player

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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