What John Cooney's "surprise" ejection tells us about Ireland's World Cup plan


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Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

20.03 14 Aug 2019


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John Cooney is among the latest Ireland players to learn that they won't be going to the Rugby World Cup.

Head coach Joe Schmidt has trimmed his squad further and the Ulster scrum-half, Finlay Bealham and Mike Haley will be watching Japan 2019 from afar.

The Irish Independent's Ruaidhri O'Connor joined Joe Molloy to talk us through how Ireland's squad are shaping up.

And it was Cooney's ejection from the wider squad that proved illustrative in his eyes.

"It was a surprise I think to most people," said Ruadhri.

"John Cooney's been one of those people that you assume his versatility would be a huge bonus to him and would probably get him on the plane.

"Because he has the ability to cover both scrum-half and fly-half. Everyone's doing the maths on whether [Schmidt] will bring three and two on either side, or whether he'll bring three of each.

"I think what this points us towards is the fact that Joey Carbery will end up being that person who covers both.

Same Risk

"Even though he doesn't have the senior experience that John Cooney does. And Joe Schmidt is willing to take the same risk he took in 2015 by bringing three out-halves and two scrum-halves.

"And Cooney, despite all of the excellent work that he's done for Ulster... it's just not where Joe Schmidt wants him to be."

So who is now in pole position to take the key places on the plane? At scrum-half, as Ruaidhri points out, Kieran Marmion and Luke McGrath have had more game-time respectively as back-ups to Conor Murray during the World Cup cycle.

"It indicates probably that Marmion will be the one who goes," he said.

"But to have [Cooney] go this early was a surprise and gives a nice indication becomes we're not getting a lot of access to Joe Schmidt right now to ask him questions about this sort of stuff."

And at third-in-line 10, Ruaidhri can't see Ross Byrne getting in ahead of Jack Carty.

You can watch the full chat above via YouTube.

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