The battle for a place on the plane to Japan ratcheted up another notch after Saturday’s warm-up game against Italy.
Although Ireland won 29-10 and despite a stilted performance, it gave plenty of insights into the final squad Joe Schmidt will take to Japan.
“I think for a first run out of the season and considering the team that was played, I thought there were loads of takeaways from it.
“If you went through every single position we got an idea about something to do with the World Cup,” journalist Cian Tracey said on OTB AM.
Versatility will be a key factor in who makes the final squad. One of the decisions that head coach Joe Schmidt will have to make is choosing between Chris Farrell and Andrew Conway.
In what some have called a poor spectacle overall against the Italians, Farrell it seems has made the most progress in winning a place in the final 31.
“I think Chris Farrell of all players made the most progress. He’s a very interesting case study. Joe Schmidt played such a massive role in getting him back to Ireland.
“I remember talking to Farrell when he was at Grenoble, Bernard Jackman was the coach and told me that Schmidt would get clips of Farrell’s performances sent back to him, to advise him what Ireland would like him to do,” Tracey said.
It provides an interesting insight into how the Ireland head coach has tried to integrate Farrell into his World Cup plans and who might miss the cut.
“While they’re not in direct competition, I just think Farrell can play the 12 and 13. This is the kind of thing they’re looking at, they want these guys to be playing more than one position.
“I think that Farrell gives you so much as a 12 and a 13 because he is a big ball carrier … but Conway and Farrell are definitely going for the one place but Farrell just has the edge after the weekend,” he said.