Japan will be the final charge for Ireland’s captain Rory Best, as he says goodbye to playing for Ireland at his fourth Rugby World Cup after he was named in Joe Schmidt’s training squad for Japan 2019.
Ulster hooker Best, who announced in April that he would retire at the showpiece tournament, is one of 44 players called up for preparatory camps from mid-June.
In all Schmidt has named 16 players in the training squad who appeared in England four years ago as Ireland were again eliminated at the quarter-final stage, losing out to Argentina in Cardiff. Schmidt has called up only two uncapped players, Mike Haley and Jean Kleyn, as he attempts to end Ireland’s long wait for a semi-final place.
In total, 28 of the 44-man squad have no previous Rugby World Cup experience
It’s interesting to see to see Ireland have failed to navigate the pool stage only once – when Best made his Rugby World Cup debut in 2007 – however they have never progressed further than the last eight. Is this the year it will happen?
Ireland will then play warm-up matches against Italy, in Dublin on 10 August, and England at Twickenham on 24 August before fixtures against Wales on 31 August and 7 September. The England fixture will be brutal, as both sides hope to gain the mental advantage prior to the long trip to Japan.
Ireland training squad
Forwards: Finlay Bealham, Rory Best, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Ultan Dillane, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Dave Kilcoyne, Jean Kleyn, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony, Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, CJ Stander, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier.
Backs: Bundee Aki, Ross Byrne, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Mike Haley, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Kieran Marmion, Luke McGrath, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Rory Scannell, Jonathan Sexton, Jacob Stockdale.