DAVE FOLEY AND Dominic Ryan will bring to 12 the number of new caps blooded during Joe Schmidt’s reign as Ireland head coach on Sunday, while Robin Copeland could make it a lucky 13 off the bench.
While some have bemoaned the fact that Ireland are not playing a third world-class team this November in between South Africa and Australia, this weekend’s meeting with Georgia does at least mean that Schmidt can grow the depth of his squad.
Alongside the new caps, players like Ian Madigan, Tommy O’Donnell, Craig Gilroy, Felix Jones and Dave Kilcoyne are provided with opportunities to confirm to Schmidt that they can be relied upon.
Foley’s impressive form for Munster over the last year or so has earned him a starting spot in the second row, while Ryan’s physical dynamism has seen him promoted into Ireland’s number six shirt.
While Copeland’s time at Munster has yet to truly kick into gear after his move home to Ireland from the Cardiff Blues during the summer, it is his athletic ability that Schmidt is backing.
“It’s brilliant,” said 26-year-old Foley of his starting chance. “I’ve said in the past that with Munster I just wanted to play as well as I could, and any opportunities that came after that are just a bonus. It’s obviously the pinnacle of every young fella’s career to play for Ireland.
Foley wins the ball above Copeland [left]. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
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“I suppose there was some disappointment last week from some players [at not being selected to face South Africa]. It’s a huge opportunity for those guys who weren’t selected. We’re just taking this as our own game.