Ireland’s back row for the November series win over Argentina last night should also start in the Six Nations opener away to France next spring, according former Leinster and Ireland hooker Shane Byrne.
CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien started in the win over the Pumas at the Aviva Stadium last night, with made it three victories out of three for Ireland in the Guinness Series.
Rhys Ruddock also came off the bench last night, having impressed last week against Fiji.
Joe Schmidt has a whole host of back row options at his disposal- the likes of Jack Conan and Jordi Murphy failed to make the squad last night, while Jamie Heaslip and Josh Van Der Flier missed the Guinness series through injury.
But, speaking to Derek Ryan on Sunday's Now That’s What I Call Sport, former Leinster and Ireland hooker Shane Byrne felt Stander, O’Mahony and O’Brien could be Ireland starting back row for some time to come.
“I think that’s the back row going forward for a while at least”, he said, “and I think Ruddock will be on the bench.
“Ruddock has been there or thereabouts for a long time and he would have maybe been a more regular starter for Ireland if CJ Stander hadn’t arrived on the scene.
“Heaslip is obviously an amazing talent, so he’ll be there or thereabouts.
“But I think for the Six Nations back row, I think we saw it against the Argentineans.”
Another headache for Joe Schmidt is the competition for the centre partnership going forward, with Bundee Aki emerging as a threat to the newfound Robbie Henshaw/ Gary Ringrose partnership at club and country.
Byrne feels “in an ideal world”, all three could be accommodated, with Henshaw starting at full back, behind Aki and Ringrose in the centre.
“To me Ringrose, when he gets back (from injury) has to be back in that 13 jersey. And I would have no problem with Henshaw at 15. Is that likely to happen? I don’t know...
Byrne was also open to the idea of Joey Carbery leaving Leinster for a year, to gain more gametime at out half, ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Speaking on Off The Ball earlier this week, former Ireland head coach Eddie O’Sullivan put forward the idea that Carbery could move to one of the other provinces for a season.
And Byrne admits that “would make sense, he is a special talent and any of the sides would love to have him”.
Also on today’s show we spoke to Jason Sherlock about life after the 1995 All-Ireland Final win, new Dublin hurling manager Pat Gilroy and Republic of Ireland women’s head coach Colin Bell. You can listen to the show in full here...
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