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Tony Buckley pictured here scoring atry against Toulon
Dan Sheridan
Ireland Along Expected Lines
11 November 2010, 9:10 am
By The Editor
Munster provide four of the eight forwards while Leinster all the backs bar one in an Irish side of few surprises for the opening November international at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Speculation beforehand had centred largely around that pack, principally the front and back rows and specifically whether it would be John Hayes or Tony Buckley at tighthead and either David Wallace or Sean O'Brien at openside. Suggestions that Leo Cullen would be ahead of Mick O'Driscoll to partner Donncha O'Callaghan were fanciful given his (O'Driscoll's) tour de force against Toulon and the Leinster lock's limited game-time this season.

The further suggestion that Isaac Boss offered a better alternative to Peter Stringer was another trip on a flight of fancy and the man who won his 200th Munster cap last weekend rightly takes his place in the match day 22 alongside three of his Munster colleagues and possibly four if Keith Earls earns the nod as he should do. The ankle injury that has being bothering Earls is obviously bothering Declan Kidney as well.

Although the sever down to earth Irish coach won't like to hear it and certainly won't entertain the notion, this one is set up nicely for an Irish victory. The Springbok arrive shorn of 13 frontline players, after a dismal Tri Nations and with a coach who, before they left was sounding out possible alternatives to his current coaching staff. It doesn't sound like the ingredients for an entirely happy camp nor the perfect environment for and end of (their) season tour.

On the other hand, Kidney's 22 is just Jerry Flannery, Tomas O'Leary and Paul O'Connell short of what likely he would consider ideal with a Leinster backline - Tommy Bowe excepted - that can offer no excuses for anything other than a tryfest performance, unless they are somehow starved of possession.

Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, E Reddan; C Healy, R Best, T Buckley; D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll; S Ferris, D Wallace, J Heaslip. Replacements: S Cronin, T Court, D Ryan, D Leamy, P Stringer, R O'Gara, K Earls or A Trimble or P Wallace.

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