Irish rookies can impress before World Cup says Easterby
Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby has called on his younger players to show their potential ahead of the 2019 World Cup. With 11 front-line Test players on British and Irish Lions duty in New Zealand and proven performers such as Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney and Sean Cronin recovering from injuries, Joe Schmidt selected a youthful 32-man squad for this month's tour. Ireland face the US in New Jersey on Saturday before Tests against Japan in Shizuoka and Tokyo in succeeding weekends.
Schmidt has brought eight uncapped players on tour, including promising 20-year-old lock James Ryan, who has yet to make a senior appearance for Leinster, and Easterby wants the youngsters to seize their chances.
He said: "They are a couple of years out from a World Cup and they offer the opportunity to develop some depth in the squad, develop the individuals, and expose them to a higher level of rugby, a high intensity. There is no doubt the US will be very physical, a lot more physical than some of these players would have experienced in the past."
Easterby has reported a "clean bill of health", with Andrew Porter, Ryan, Rory O'Loughlin, Dave Heffernan, Kieran Treadwell, John Cooney, Jacob Stockdale and Rory Scannell all poised to win their first Test caps.
The coaches will look to seasoned campaigners to help guide the rookies.
"There is a bit of inexperience," Easterby said. "But there is the experience of Cian Healy and Devin Toner, particularly in the forwards. These tours were probably earmarked for a bit of that inexperience to come through and build our depth. We are two years out from a World Cup.
"This is a great starting point for a lot of these young players - to get an opportunity to invest some time in them but to get to know each other as well and see how they perform under pressure - a bit more pressure than some of them are used to."