Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is likely to change his entire starting team for Saturday’s final outing of the November Series against USA (kick-off 6pm).
This time last year Schmidt made 13 changes for the concluding game of the international window against Fiji and in all likelihood, given the injuries and the opportunity to examine the depth of his squad in more detail, all the starters from the historic win over New Zealand are expected to sit this one out.
Here is a starting XV the coaching team could opt for against the side ranked 13th in the world.
15 Will Addison
Addison was signed by Ulster as a utility back and with Rob Kearney and Jordan Larmour both out of the picture this weekend, may come into the reckoning. More of a centre by trade – that’s where he has been utilised by his province – though made his debut in Chicago off the bench at full-back.
14 Andrew Conway
The Munster man will be chomping at the bit to earn his 10th cap. Played the full match at Soldier Field as well as a four-minute cameo against the Pumas and is a trusted member of the squad. Will be looking to lay down another marker on Saturday.
13 Sam Arnold
If Schmidt opts for Will Addison at full-back, it paves the way for Sam Arnold to make his Test debut. Has been involved in a number of training camps at Carton House will bring an abrasive approach at 13.
12 Stuart McCloskey
It has been difficult time for the 26-year-old to stake his claim for Ireland with the likes of Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki - not to mention Chris Farrell - ahead in the pecking order. A typically abrasive debut at Twickenham in 2016 was followed by an outing against Fiji last November, and since then has been forced to bide his time. Will look to punch holes in the American defence.
11 Darren Sweetnam
Both of his caps came in last year’s November Series, where his stock rose considerably after an effective six-minute cameo against South Africa with the game in the melting pot and a try on his first start a week later against Fiji. Has split his time this season with Munster between left and right wing with two tries to his name.
10 Joey Carbery
Played a total of seven minutes against Argentina and the All Blacks after impressing both out of hand and from the kicking tee against Italy. The opposition on Saturday won’t provide the tests that a Tier One country would offer, but nonetheless it is more game time under the belt in the 10 jersey.
9 John Cooney
All three previous outings have come off the replacements bench, but should get the nod after after backing up last year’s superb campaign with Ulster with a strong showing in the early stages of the 2018/19 season.
1 Dave Kilcoyne
With Jack McGrath leaving the squad this week, the dynamic Munster prop gets his opportunity to shine. Always impactful with ball in hand, his scrummaging is better than many give the 29-year-old credit for. Should he be selected, it will be his third time to face the Americans.
2 Niall Scannell
Scannell will have to fend off the challenge of Rob Herring to get the start, but the Ulster hooker hasn’t made a match-day squad yet this November and the 26-year-old will be looking to build upon strong performances against Australia in the summer.
3 Andrew Porter
Not easy having Tadhg Furlong to compete with, but Porter displayed assured performances during the Six Nations when called upon to deputise. Finlay Bealham has managed just 22 minutes so far in the series, but Porter could well get his chance from the off.
4 Tadhg Beirne
Beirne been the focus of so much attention since deciding to return to Irish shores after a highly successful stint in Wales. Finally made his bow against Australia this summer and marked his first start with two tries against the Italians less than three weeks ago. Will have been disappointed not to have made the bench for the subsequent games with Argentina and New Zealand.
5 Quinn Roux
The 6' 6" Connacht lock has won seven caps since he was handed his debut against South Africa two years ago. Likely to resume the second row partnership from Chicago with Beirne.
6 Rhys Ruddock (captain)
Captain against Italy and may well be handed the role again. More than half of his 20 appearances to date have come off the bench, and a trusted lietenant of the head coach. Unlucky throughout his career with injuries, expect the flanker to demonstrate yet again the strength in depth at Schmidt’s disposal in the backrow.
7 Jordi Murphy
A late replacement on the bench last weekend following Dan Leavy’s injury, looks set to move into the starting XV after 16 minutes against the All Blacks.
8 Jack Conan
Started against Italy, but hasn’t featured in the match-day 23 since. A powerful performer at the base of the scrum, would be one of the main ball carriers should he get the green light from Schmidt.
Possible Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Adam Byrne