Cian Healy – One of Ireland’s most dynamic and strongest props. Expect a big world cup from Healy.
Mike Ross – Enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top. Very dependable and solid last year. Made the tight head position his own. Big challenge but undoubtedly up to it.
Tom Court – Big opportunity for the prop as he will get game time in New Zealand. Relatively untested but that will change soon.
Tony Buckley – The former Newbridge second row will be looking to have a big impact at the world cup. Only 4 props travelling means they will all get plenty of opportunities.
Jerry Flannery – Just back from injury but will probably be Ireland’s first choice hooker. Flannery’s last world cup, expect it to be his best if he can stay clear of injury.
Rory Best – Will be pushing Flannery for starting hooker. An impressive throwing display against France last week will have his confidence high. A leader within the team.
Sean Cronin – Would Kidney have picked 3 hookers if Flannery had not been injured for so long? Cronin deserves his place but may have limited game time.
Paul O’Connell – The leader of the forwards. O’Connell is one of the world’s best second rows and the heartbeat of the Irish pack. Plagued with injury over the past couple of seasons, this will surely be O’Connell’s last world cup. He will give it everything.
Donncha O’Callaghan – Has been very dependable for years and has formed a great partnership with O’Connell for Munster, Ireland and the Lions.
Leo Cullen – The Leinster captain will be hoping he can break up the partnership of O’Connell and O’Callaghan by forcing his way into the Irish second row. Had a fantastic season which saw his Leinster team crowned Heineken Cup Champions.
David Wallace – Needs to prove that his hamstring injury is not severe this Saturday against England. Playing in his final world cup, Wallace has been an incredible servant to Irish rugby. The only out-and-out No. 7 in the Irish squad will have a huge role in New Zealand.
Sean O’Brien – An aggressive, abrasive and dynamic loose forward. This is O’Brien’s first world cup and barring injury will not be his last. Could be a very big star after the world cup!
Donnacha Ryan – The Shannon man’s ability to play second row and offer himself as a lineout target may have proved instrumental in his selection. Will get his chance.
Stephen Ferris – The Ulster man is just back from a lengthy injury but is included in the squad. One of the stars of the 2009 Lions tour, Ferris’ inclusion comes as no surprise. Forms part of an exciting and potentially devastating Irish backrow.
Jamie Heaslip – One of Leinster and Ireland’s consistent performers. Heaslip has been outstanding for the past number of seasons and will be instrumental for Ireland at the world cup.
Denis Leamy – Injuries have plagued the Tipperary man but he will be delighted to get the nod. Ireland’s backrow is ultra competitive but Leamy’s ability to cover more than one position could prove important.
Eoin Reddan – Reddan enjoyed a very successful season at Leinster and looks to be Ireland’s first choice scrum half for the world cup. Forms a very good partnership with provincial teammate Johnny Sexton.
Isaac Boss – Still has a lot to offer and playing in his native New Zealand will stoke the fire all the more for Boss.
Conor Murray – One of the surprises of the squad. The scrum half has enjoyed a fantastic year. Making his debut for Munster only a few months ago, Murray’s inclusion meant Tomas O’Leary was omitted. A very exciting prospect.
Johnny Sexton – The key for Ireland’s world cup hopes. Sexton will be massively influential in any game he plays in. Undoubtedly now Ireland’s first choice outhalf, expect him to come back as a global rugby star.
Ronan O’Gara – Ireland’s two outhalves compliment each other very well and can be used very effectively by the Irish management. Expect Sexton to start games and O’Gara to close them out. A legend of Irish rugby. This will be ROG’s last world cup.
Brian O’Driscoll (Captain) – All good things must come to an end. This will be the captain’s last world cup. A mercurial talent who leads by example every time he plays. Will go down as one of the world’s greatest centres of all time. A privilege to have played on the same team as this rugby legend.
Gordon D’Arcy – Will be hoping to have a big world cup. D’arcy and O’Driscoll have been the spine of the Irish rugby team for close to a decade. His explosive runs as well his ability to stay on his feet should set Ireland on the front foot.
Fergus McFadden – A surprise inclusion? An exciting prospect who can also cover the wing position. McFadden gets the nod ahead of fellow Leinster teammate, Luke Fitzgerald.
Paddy Wallace – Can cover a number of positions and is a goal kicker. Wallace’s inclusion should not come a s a surprise. Will be used as a utility back.
Tommy Bowe – Since his omission from the world cup of 2007, Bowe has been in incredible form for the Ospreys and Ireland. The Monaghan man will be one of the first names on the team sheet.
Andrew Trimble – Has been one of the few notable performers during Ireland’s warm up games. The Ulster man has earned his place in the squad and will battle it out with Earls for one of the wing positions. May see him at centre also.
Keith Earls – Will be looking for a big world cup. His explosive runs will hopefully be his trade mark in New Zealand. Will probably be first choice winger along with Bowe.
Rob Kearney – Following his lengthly lay off through injury, the Leinster man has regained form just in time for the world cup. Kearney reminded everyone of his ability during Ireland’s warm up games and will probably be first choice full back.
Geordan Murphy – Finally Geordy is picked! The Leicester Tigers legend has been cruelly struck down with injury on numerous occasions so he knows how Felix Jones feels right now. Murphy had been told he was not included in the squad until Felix Jones’ injury against France. Without doubt Murphy thoroughly deserves his chance.
The 30 players listed above will represent Ireland in the highly anticipated Rugby World Cup taking place in New Zealand in just over two weeks. Choosing only 30 players from a much larger pool of top quality players is an unenviable task for any coach. It is often referred to as a “good problem”. It is a problem that all coaches want as opposed to only having a very limited number of players to chose from. All the members of the Irish squad deserve their place on merit, that is without question but what about the players not included in the final Irish rugby squad?
Luke Fitzgerald – The cousin of the Irish captain can feel very disappointed not to be included in Kidney’s plans for the world cup. Fitzgerald has struggled with injury and form since his British & Irish Lions selection 2 years ago ,but has shown signs of coming back to his best. His impressive performance last week against France was unfortunately too little too late for Kidney and the Irish management. Ireland’s loss is Leinster’s gain.
Tomas O’Leary – Along with Fitzgerald, O’Leary’s omission came as the biggest surprise. O’Leary was selected for the 2009 British & Irish Lions but suffered a broken ankle and never made the tour. Ireland coach, Declan Kidney has appeared to favor O’Leary at scrum half over the past few seasons so it makes his exclusion all the more surprising. Although O’Leary’s performance against France may not have done him any favors, it seems as though he already knew that he was not going to the world cup. The players were allegedly informed of their omission by the irish management last Thursday. Was this on O’Leary’s mind during the game against France?
Shane Jennings – Another player who suffered injury at the wrong time. Jennings broke his arm in the Magner’s League Grand Final against Munster last season. He was in a race against time to play a game before the world cup squad was announced. The flanker started against France last Saturday in place of the injured David Wallace but was unable to force his way into the final Irish squad. There seems to be a global shift away from the “fetching” flanker (No. 7 who competes for the ball at rucks). Competing at the break down is Jennings’ forte but Ireland and England have only included one of these “fetchers” in their squads, in Wallace and Moody respectively. Teams are committing less players to the rucks these days and relying on their defence. Thanks to the skill and incredible ability of New Zealand No. 7, Richie McCaw, referees will be looking to penalize players deemed to be slowing the ball at ruck time during the World Cup. The decision to only bring one recognized No. 7 means that Jennings loses out. Very disappointing for the man who’s introduction at half time of the Heineken Cup final saw a massive shift in Leinster’s fortunes.
John Hayes – It is hard not to feel for Ireland’s most capped prop. He has been a stalwart of Munster and Irish rugby for over a decade. I feel that Hayes still had a role to play in the World Cup but the Irish management obviously felt otherwise. It is vital that Ireland have a solid scrum and without doubt Hayes can provide that. Sadly this is a world cup too far for the veteran prop and it remains to be seen if Hayes has played his last game of rugby. An Irish legend.
Peter Stringer – Along with John Hayes, Stringer has been a mainstay in the Irish team for close on a decade. Although never really in contention for this world cup’s selection, the veteran scrum half deserves a special mention for his outstanding contribution to Irish rugby. Stringer and Hayes (along with many others) dragged Irish rugby, kicking and screaming, up to the high standard we now associate with the national team. They have been a credit to Irish rugby and it has been a joy to watch them.
The players who did not make the final squad will feel devastated. It is desperately unlucky to miss out when you have come so close. These players will have to put their disappointment behind them and focus on their provincial teams. It is tough, but that is the cut throat nature of professional sport.
The Irish team have played three warm up games and lost three warm up games. Kidney and O’Driscoll were quick to point out that the results were “not important and that the world cup has not kicked off yet”. This is true but Ireland need to get back to winning ways before the competition commences.
The Irish squad has been selected so it is time to get behind the team. Ireland have one more warm up game on Saturday. The opposition: England. This may be just the game Ireland need to get their world cup campaign up and running…