Ireland management bring forward announcement of World Cup squad

Andy Farrell will now reveal his squad on Sunday afternoon instead of waiting until Monday

The Irish management have brought forward the announcement confirming their 33-man squad for the World Cup from Monday lunchtime to Sunday afternoon in Dublin after returning from their final warm-up game against Samoa in Bayonne’s Stade Jean Dauger on Saturday night (kick-off 8.45pm local time/7.45pm Irish).

Five players were released back to their provinces in the middle of last week, four days before the England game, and with a further five to miss out on selection for the World Cup from the remaining 38 players who are officially in the wider training squad, the tournament is now looming closer into view.

“I think there is a type of anxiety there but the players are well used to being put in sticky situations, selections for Cup finals, selections for tours, selections for Six Nations games,” said Iain Henderson following the Captain’s Run in the Stade Jean Dauger.

“Obviously this one carries a slightly different weight but we’re a really tight-knit group, the guys who are feeling probably the worst about it are probably the best supported.


“We understand how we’re all getting on and that’s something that the guys have done a really good job of around that collective, and I feel that the guys really do look out for each other and there’s a genuine care for how each other is feeling.

“And within the same positions as well, so it’s not just for other members of the team, it runs right through the squad.”

These warm-up games being a necessary evil, there’s also the ever-present risk of untimely injuries, which has been heightened by the raft of high profile players who will miss this World Cup.

“A lot of the players have been here before and they’ve played in a similar scenario,” reasoned Henderson, who is set to take part in his third World Cup.

“Close to half the squad haven’t been in this position before but you can’t keep control of things that happen in games in terms of the injury side of things, so what the players are focusing on is how they’re going to put their best foot forward for Faz to get a good glimpse of them.

“He knows each one of us pretty intimately at this stage and I feel that the final step that the players can take is to actually go out and show it again in the Test match this weekend.

“That anxiety is obviously stressful enough for players, but at the same time nothing that players aren’t used to in terms of stress in the professional rugby environment.”

Ireland have beaten all their Tier 1 rivals on the last occasions they’ve met and are seeking a 25th win in their last 27 Tests against Samoa.

While Henderson admitted this is a good place to be, he also said: “I’ve been involved in a lot of teams at club level and international level, when you beat someone it doesn’t necessarily mean that next time you play them you’re going to beat them again.

“But for a lot of those guys who have come through, the likes of Hugo Keenan and Caelan Doris, a huge chunk of that younger cohort that have been around for the last three, four years, it’s been the norm for them to be pushing these top teams as far as they can and it’s unbelievable to see the way they carry themselves into those training weeks and into those games.

“Off the back of that, it’s incredibly impressive for us slightly older players to see them going like that and they are huge drivers for us as well.

“But I think it is massively promising that we have been able to turn over those teams.

The rain began falling softly if heavily during the players’ Captain’s Run.

“Yeah, it’s changed out here from what it was earlier in the week. It’s still quite warm and quite humid, but nowhere near as hot as it was earlier in the week.

“It’s drizzling a small bit but it’s pretty still, the ball is quite slippy, but earlier in the week it was super-hot, super-sweaty, so the ball was sticky and almost slimy then too.

“We’re kind of used to that slimy ball, it’s kind of the way we’ve been playing. The way it has changed it could be slightly drier tomorrow evening, it could be similar to out there now, I’m not sure, but hopefully we’re well prepared for whatever it is.”

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times