Springboks vs Ireland: Farrell supports Osborne’s weapon

Following Andy Farrell's announcement of the Irish team, we select our winners and losers from his selection to face the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld.

Not surprisingly, the Irish head coach has largely selected the same players from Matchday 23 that played in the Six Nations, with the exception of a few players who have ruled themselves out of the tour.

The head coach has also made a rare surprise selection at full-back as Ireland look to beat the Springboks on home turf for only the second time in their history.

Farrell's squad is brimming with experience and talent and is in no way inferior to that of the Springboks, so an exciting encounter is to be expected.


Jamie Osborne

For the last two years, perhaps even longer, the Irish 23-point scoreline in a major Test match has been fairly straightforward and easy to predict.

There have been some exceptions to this role, notably Mack Hansen in 2022 and, to a much lesser extent, Joe McCarthy in the Six Nations this year.

But until reports emerged on the eve of the team's announcement, few would have predicted Jamie Osborne in the starting lineup, and even fewer would have expected him to start at full-back.

After Hugo Keenan had withdrawn from the tour to represent the sevens team at the Olympic Games, there was also a change to the full-back position. Most experts and fans were predicting Jimmy O'Brien or Ciaran Frawley, but Farrell had other ideas.

Osborne certainly deserves his chance after a phenomenal season for Leinster, but he has predominantly played in the centre of the field for the Irish province this season and was last in the starting line-up at full-back in November 2022.

His cannon shot will be another important weapon for Ireland on the Highveld, but it will be an enormous challenge for the newcomer in front of a cheering home crowd.

Garry Ringrose

It has been a challenging season for Garry Ringrose, who was sidelined for most of the season due to injury, but is now fully fit and has taken his place among the substitutes.

Rassie Erasmus was not the only one to think that the midfielder would break the Bundee Aki-Robbie Henshaw combination in the starting eleven, but that is not the case, as he will try to make an impact in the closing stages of the game.

Having missed all but one of Ireland's Six Nations games – he came off the bench against Scotland – and watched Leinster's Investec Champions Cup from the sidelines as well as the semi-final against the Bulls, it will be great to see the centre-back in action.

Calvin Nash

With O'Brien back to full fitness, Farrell might have been tempted to move the versatile Leinster full-back to the wing in place of Nash, but the Munster man retains his position, and rightly so.

Nash has been impressive throughout the Six Nations campaign and really doesn't deserve to lose his place if there is a shake-up in the back row to counteract some of the Springboks' strengths.

He was one of the Munster stars who shone in South Africa in the URC and will look to repeat that form in the green jersey.

Craig Casey

With Jamison Gibson-Park unable to take part in the series due to injury, a change to the scrum half position was an obvious choice for Farrell, and Craig Casey certainly deserves his chance against a top team.

The 25-year-old takes the starting jersey after an outstanding season at Munster, including a rare poor performance against Glasgow Warriors.

The diminutive number nine can offer the same quick serve as Gibson-Park and although Conor Murray would have been a safe choice, Casey more than deserves his chance in a star-studded Irish team.

Andy Farrell

Despite the setbacks caused by the loss of Keenan, Jack Conan and Gibson-Park for the series, Farrell has named a strong Matchday 23 for the match against the two-time world champions.

Osborne's selection is a bit of a risk considering he hasn't played that role recently, but he's incredibly talented, while Conan's gap is filled by James Ryan, meaning they lose little experience. Casey, on the other hand, would need a big Test start at some point and gets it.

Overall, the setbacks were easily overcome and Farrell is confident that they can beat the Boks.

Winners and losers of the Springboks teams: Rassie Erasmus supports “written-off veteran” and snubs “weakening playmaker” against Ireland


Ciaran Frawley

The all-round talent from Leinster is quickly becoming an important replacement for Ireland thanks to his skills as a link-up, midfielder and full-back.

However, Frawley would have liked to have been in the starting line-up against the Springboks, especially since Keenan was unavailable.

He could still play a key role as a substitute in the closing stages of the games.

Nick Timoney

Had Farrell opted to start on the bench for a 6-2 draw, as he did three times during the Six Nations, it is safe to assume that Nick Timoney would have started from the bench against the Springboks.

That was not to be, however, as the in-form Ulsterman was overlooked in favour of lock/blindside flanker Ryan Baird as one of the five strikers.

Timoney is incredibly unlucky not to make the cut along with his back row colleagues Cormac Izuchukwu and Cian Prendergast.

Oli Jaeger

A difficult decision for Farrell and scrum coach John Fogarty, as there is little difference between Finlay Bealham and Oli Jager as replacements for Tadhg Furlong.

Both players have had solid seasons for their provinces and ultimately it seems to come down to a discretionary decision and this time Jager is missing.

Jimmy O’Brien

Another defender who is incredibly unlucky not to be named in the matchday squad and, more importantly, not to be given the starting fullback shirt, with O'Brien being beaten out by Osborne for the number 15 shirt.

O'Brien, a hugely talented star, has been plagued by injuries. Unfortunately, this time he is fit and full of energy, but still fails to make the final 23.

Stuart McCloskey

Similar to the Springboks, Ireland are well-equipped in midfield, with the excellent Stuart McCloskey missing on Matchday 23.

Aki and Henshaw shone throughout the Six Nations and continued that form in their respective provinces. McCloskey was impressive for Ulster but not enough to get ahead of either of them. Ringrose also offers an option on the wing.

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