Former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan reckons CJ Stander has done enough to earn a starting place against South Africa – at the expense of Sean O’Brien.
Ireland play the Springboks in three summer Tests and the Munster flanker has given coach Joe Schmidt a welcome headache ahead of games on the 11, 18 and 25 of June.
Stander, who turns 26 at the start of April, made his debut against Wales six weeks ago and was Ireland’s best player of the Six Nations but Ulster’s Chris Henry, Munster’s Peter O’Mahony and Leinster’s O’Brien will all come back into the reckoning if fit.
Schmidt is likely to keep faith with the experienced Jamie Heaslip for these matches meaning that there’s a real battle on for the remaining two loose forward places.
O’Sullivan told RTÉ Sport’s Against the Head: “I think Stander would force his way into the back row at the moment because his work-rate is superb.
“I think O’Brien [would make way], actually. You have to keep O’Mahony for his lineout.
“He has a full Six Nations under his belt and he has delivered in every game.”
Fellow panellists Brent Pope and Donal Lenihan disagreed with O’Sullivan. You can watch the full debate here.