Planet Rugby

Preview: Canada v Ireland

14th June 2013 14:27

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aaron carpenter peter omahony canada ireland

Home captain: Aaron Carpenter

Ireland's next stop on their tour of North America takes them to Vancouver to face Canada on Saturday in Toronto.

The trip over the border comes after a tricky 15-12 victory for Ireland last weekend over the United States, when five penalties from the boot of Ian Madigan were ultimately enough to see them home.

A total of ten Irish stars are away with the British and Irish Lions in Australia, handing a number of young Irish stars, Madigan included, the chance to lay down a marker ahead of the November Internationals.

The number of absentees certainly played a part in Ireland's apparent lack of cohesion in Houston, as will the lack of time Les Kiss has had in charge of the side.

With Joe Schmidt not set to take over until the start of next season from Declan Kidney, Kiss will have benefited from having his squad together for an extra week having been slightly stunned at the closeness of their victory last weekend.

To add to the situation, Kiss admitted that the squad had been dealing with a bout of illness all week along with knocks to key players including skipper Peter O'Mahony.

"There is a bit of attrition after a long season, but fair play to the boys they have been good. We have had a couple of minor injuries from last week, but things are looking okay on that part," said Kiss

"We have just had a situation today where we will not have a full squad training as there is a little bit of unwellness in the squad, but that is just something you have to deal with when you travel and these little stomach upsets happen.

"We are anticipating a tough game against a very good Canada side that have put together a run of three wins in the Pacific Nations Cup.

"The experience gained on this tour is invaluable and I have no doubt that the players will respond well in what will be another challenging test."

Kiss has made a number of changes to the team that beat the USA as Downey joins Darren Cave in a new centre partnership.

Andrew Trimble will win his 50th cap in a back three that includes Fergus McFadden and Felix Jones. Up front Tom Court joins the front row while Dan Tuohy forms a new second row pairing with Devin Toner. Tommy O'Donnell starts having won his first cap last weekend with Kevin McLaughlin and O'Mahony completing the back row.

Canada on the other hand have injury concerns of their own, but arrive at this fixture fresh off the back of a three-game winning run against the United States, Tonga and Fiji.

What's more impressive is that Canada achieved two of those victories in four day, battling past Fiji for a first-ever win over the Islanders, before coming through a violent fixture against Tonga.

"The boys are pretty battered and bruised after two games in four days. We've got five or six guys we're sweating on a little bit at the moment," said coach Kieran Crowley unsurprisingly.

Fitness worries aside, Canada are flying right now and will give Ireland as stern a challenge as possible.

Players to watch:

For Canada: Arguably Canada's most experienced player in the XV to take on Ireland, London Irish's Jebb Sinclair spent a busy season working with the Stormers in the Currie Cup before returning to the Aviva Premiership. Coming up against a heavily-rotated Ireland pack will give Sinclair and the Canada forwards plenty to contain.

For Ireland: Earning a Test cap is a difficult process, but few could begrudge James Downey for making his bow in a green jersey this weekend. Years of dedicated service at Northampton Saints have culminated in a return to Ireland with Munster, paving his way to the national side. Always a physical handful, Downey could be a revelation.

Head-to-head: Two captains playing from the back of the pack in Aaron Carpenter and Peter O'Mahony. Cornish Pirates player Carpenter has been a regular star in the RFU Championship for many seasons and has led the national side since 2012, whilst O'Mahony's development for Munster over the last season has accelerated, including a starring role in the Heineken Cup quarter-final victory over Harlequins.

Recent results:

2009: Ireland won 25-6, Vancouver
2008: Ireland won 55-0, Limerick
2000: Draw 27-27, Markham

1997: Ireland won 33-11, Lansdowne Road
1989: Ireland won 24-21, Victoria
1987: Ireland won 46-19, Dunedin

Prediction: Canada are in great form, but Ireland's rotation in the pack means fresh legs have been introduced and gives them an excellent chance of winning this one. Ireland to win by between 10 to 15 points.

The teams:

Canada: 15 James Pritchard, 14 Matt Evans, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Harry Jones, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Nathan Hirayama, 9 Phil Mack, 8 Aaron Carpenter (c), 7 John Moonlight, 6 Tyler Ardron, 5 Tyler Hotson, 4 Jebb Sinclair, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Ray Barkwill, 1 Hubert Buydens.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Hamilton, 17 Andrew Tiedemann, 18 Doug Woodridge, 19 Jon Phelan, 20 Nanyak Dala, 21 Sean White, 22 Nick Blevins, 23 Connor Braid.

Ireland: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Darren Cave, 12 James Downey, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Peter O'Mahony (c), 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Robbie Henshaw.

Date: Saturday, June 15
Venue: BMO Field, Toronto
Kick-off: 20:00 (local)
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Nick Ricono (USA), Ed Gardner (USA)
Assessor:: Lyndon Bray

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