Ireland v Argentina: Joey Carbery will orchestrate affairs at the Aviva

Andy Farrell forced to make changes from the team that beat New Zeland
Ireland v Argentina: Joey Carbery will orchestrate affairs at the Aviva

Ireland's Joey Carbery kicks a penalty from the halfway line against the All Blacks. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

A REJUVENATED Ireland go in search of their eighth win in a row when they face old nemesis Argentina in their final Autumn International at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

There was a considerable amount of negativity surrounding the early stages of Andy Farrell’s tenure as Ireland head coach when he took over after the failure that was the World Cup in Japan in 2019. A positive finish to last year’s Six Nations, with an emphatic win over England being the highlight, has led us to today, where Ireland can once again boast of being conquerors of the All Blacks. It can now officially be stated that Ireland are on a roll.

Should Ireland see off the Pumas on Sunday then by the time they next take to the pitch, which will again be the Aviva Stadium on February 5 in the Six Nations opener against Wales, it will almost be a whole year since they last tasted defeat.

IRELAND: Hugo Keenan; Robert Baloucoune, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Tadgh Furlong; Iain Henderson, James Ryan; Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

We can expect Ireland to take the confidence garnered from last week’s seismic victory into this weekend, even if we can expect to see a lot of new faces. It is inevitable that injuries will be sustained when subjecting oneself to the considerable physical challenge that the All Blacks always bring. 

Captain Jonathan Sexton will be marked absent for at least six weeks due to injuries sustained last Saturday, but we can speculate that he may not have started in any case. The loss of the match against the USA last month meant that Farrell lost his best chance at exposing the lesser experienced members of his squad to international fare, meaning that this is his last chance to give game time to some of his tackle bag holders of recent weeks.

James Ryan and Jonathan Sexton of Ireland. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
James Ryan and Jonathan Sexton of Ireland. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Munster’s Joey Carbery will be expecting to orchestrate affairs on Sunday given how brilliantly he nailed three pressure kicks on Saturday to ensure victory. The in-form Jack Carty has been called in to replace Sexton, but we can expect Carbery to start, with Leinster’s 22-year-old Harry Byrne to deputise on the bench.

The Irish back row of Jack Conan, Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris was simply magnificent last weekend, with Doris, in particular, giving a performance for the ages in the victory over the All Blacks. In saying that, it is an area that is extremely attritional, so Farrell must keep building the depth chart in this sector. Munster’s Gavin Coombes missed out on a shot at selection for the past two weekends but has now recovered from illness. Sunday should be an opportunity for the Skibbereen juggernaut to put his hand up for future selection.

Argentina come into this Test match on the back of what has been a tough few months for them. 

They would have been happy with how their July Tests went, as they recorded a 17-24 win over Romania in Bucharest before facing Wales twice in Cardiff. They drew the first game before dispatching the Welsh by 33-11 in the second Test.

They looked all set for a decent showing in the Rugby Championship, which commenced in August, but they never got going, ending up being the punchbag for the other three sides, and duly lost all six of their ties in that competition, and their final points difference of -135 tells a tale in itself. They really struggled to trouble the defences of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, scoring only five tries in their six defeats, with two of those coming in their final game, a 17-32 loss to the Wallabies, which was the highest score they registered in their campaign.

There seems to have been improvement since, however, as Mario Ledesma’s side lost their opening Autumn International by 29-20 to France in Paris, but followed that up by ending their seven game losing streak with a 16-37 win over Italy in Treviso.

It is probably wishful thinking to assume that Ireland will enjoy the same amount of territory and possession that they enjoyed against the All Blacks. You would think if they wrestle that amount of control and bring the same levels of physicality to the collisions then the Pumas will really struggle to match a revitalised Ireland, even shorn a number of the heroes of last Saturday evening.

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