Ireland squad winners and losers as Andy Farrell snubs Munster stars for Springboks series

Jared Wright
Sam Prendergast and Gavin Coombes in a split image.

Our winners and losers from the Ireland squad to face the Springboks in South Africa.

Following the announcement of Andy Farrell’s Ireland squad to take on the Springboks on South African soil, here are our winners and losers.

In what is increasingly becoming a modern-day rivalry, Ireland head to South Africa to tackle the back-to-back World Cup winners in their our backyard.

Ireland travel to the Republic ranked second overall in the world rankings having defended their Six Nations crown and will go toe-to-toe with the top-ranked side eager to put on a show for their home fans.

With Farrell unveiling his 35-man squad, here are our winners and losers from the selection.


Sam Prendergast

The Leinster fly-half debate has been raging on in recent weeks and Farrell has indicated who he sees as Jack Crowley’s biggest competitor after preferring Sam Prendergast over Ross and Harry Byrne for his touring squad.

It’s a massive call to take the uncapped playmaker to South Africa, who may just be carrying tackle bags throughout the tour, but still, it’s a huge opportunity to perform in training under the watchful eye of the selectors.

The 21-year-old is clearly a hugely talented player and one that is bound to rack up a good number of Test caps in the coming years, and getting him in now certainly makes sense.

Jamie Osborne

Quite simply, this is just reward for a stellar season in the midfield for Leinster covering the injuries and rest periods of Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose.

The 22-year-old could well be pressing for a start despite a congested midfield that included Bundee Aki, Henshaw, Ringrose and Stuart McCloskey, with his real point of difference being his cannon boot that could come in handy, particularly in Pretoria. He has also featured on the wing for Leinster, a position Ireland are a bit light in heading to South Africa.

Cormac Izuchukwu

It’s no easy feat breaking into the current Ireland team, even more so as a forward, but Ulster star Cormac Izuchukwu certainly deserves his shot, particularly after a blockbuster performance in the quarter-final against Leinster before being forced off.

A quick, tall forward, Izuchukwu fits the bill for the modern-day lock/blindside flanker hybrid and looks set to challenge Ryan Baird for that role behind skipper Peter O’Mahony.

The Springboks pose a real challenge up front and even if the Ulsterman is unable to crack the teamsheet this July, it will be important for him to set a high standard to prepare his teammates.

Jack Conan

Leinster and Ireland number eight Jack Conan misses the tour with the IRFU, stating that it is for “personal reasons” and if reports are to be believed, it is for the birth of his child.

If so, Conan putting his family first is a commendable thing to do, and we tip our hat to the British and Irish Lion.

Jacob Stockdale

In the squad this Six Nations, he did not get a look in but still went back to his province, put his head down, and continued his strong run of form to earn a recall. Jacob Stockdale continues to trend towards the kind of form that saw him top the try scorer charts in the Six Nations for Ireland and offers an experienced option out wide for Farrell this July.

Despite his injury setbacks, Stockdale is a classy operator and has been rewarded for his reliance.

Jack Crowley

Farrell’s fly-half selections suggest that there is a main man for his number 10 jersey this July, and it’s Crowley. Frankly, it couldn’t be anyone else as he has looked a class above the chasing fly-half stocks.

His selection was a straightforward one but is another notch in his belt as he makes the post-Johnny Sexton transition look rather effortless.

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Jamison Gibson-Park

Ireland will be heading to South Africa without possibly their most important and influential player in scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park, who has been ruled out of the tour due to a hamstring injury.

It’s difficult to quantify his absence without being overly hyperbolic but simply put, it is a mighty blow. He dictates their tempo on attack, is clear and accurate when exiting and is the heartbeat of the team at times.

Antoine Dupont is one of the few better number nines in the game than Gibson-Park and as far as importance to their respective teams, it’s rather even.

Mack Hansen

It’s just been one of those seasons for the winger who has failed to recover from injury in time to make the Ireland squad after also missing the Six Nations through injury.

Ireland are certainly poorer in the back-three this July compared to the World Cup with only James Lowe surviving from the team that beat the Boks, with Hugo Keenan missing the tour to feature of the sevens team at the Olympics.

Byrne brothers

Many would have expected one of, if not both of the Byrne brothers to be on the plane to South Africa this July, but alas Farrell thought differently and backed the young Prendergast instead.

Both Harry and, perhaps more so, Ross Byrne have been highly criticised for their Leinster performances of late, particularly in the crunch United Rugby Championship and Champions Cup knockout stages, and the Ireland boss has pulled the trigger at international level.

Munster back-rowers

What does Gavin Coombes need to do? Caelan Doris is clearly the first choice number eight for Ireland, but even with Conan missing the tour, Coombes has been overlooked. The Munster back-row has been consistently excellent throughout the season as they reached the URC semi-finals, but again, he has not impressed enough to even catch a lift to Africa.

The same can be said of his fellow loose forwards in red, with John Hodnett enjoying a superb season along with Alex Kendellen, both of whom have been snubbed. Thomas Ahern’s untimely injury also means that he misses out too.

Jeremy Loughman

Perhaps one of the most surprising omissions is that of Jeremy Loughman, who has been nothing short of superb all season for Munster but is not included in the squad.

Loughman has been particularly excellent at scrum time for Munster, and while Andrew Porter is fit enough to go deep into games, one of the Test matches will be played at altitude, and his presence on the bench could have been vital. It’s worth adding that Porter struggled against the Bulls in Pretoria against Wilco Louw, who may not even be selected in the Boks squad.

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