Andy Farrell says Ireland’s debutants must not allow desperation to impress to become detrimental to the team after selecting eight newcomers to face the United States.
Uncapped Ulster quartet Tom O’Toole, Nick Timoney, Robert Baloucoune and James Hume have been named in the Irish starting XV for Saturday’s clash in Dublin while international rookies Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade, Fineen Wycherley and Harry Byrne are among the replacements.
Head coach Farrell has also handed first Test starts to Craig Casey, Ryan Baird and Gavin Coombes having opted to make eight changes to the team which began last weekend’s 39-31 win over Japan
He said: “They’re all there to express themselves – but at the same time can they be a team-first player and can they perform under pressure?
“I am sure there will be a few nerves but concentrating on the detail, concentrating on how we want to function as a team has got to be the priority.
“Coming into an international camp for the first time is pretty daunting because you’ve been so used to one way of playing and it’s ingrained in you how you play for your province.
“Learning new calls, getting to understand new team-mates, getting about your work within six or seven days to be able to perform at your best is a difficult one and it takes time to get really good at that.
“I am looking to see with the newcomers whether they can deliver for the team what we’ve been trying to work on, they’ve got to be part of that.
“What tends to happen sometimes when you think you’ve got an opportunity you become a little bit desperate and desperation can get in the way of how we want to perform.
“Just trying to calm them down and get them to understand what they need to focus on, getting the detail and the togetherness of the team right, I’m sure will grab a hold of their attention.”
O’Toole and Timoney will start at tighthead prop and openside flanker respectively, with Baloucoune on the right wing and Hume at outside centre.
Leinster lock James Ryan will once again captain the side, while Hugo Keenan, Stuart McCloskey, Joey Carbery, Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher and Caelan Doris have also retained starting spots.
In addition to the newcomers, Andrew Conway returns on the left wing, replacing the injured Jordan Larmour.
Farrell, who joined Ireland’s coaching setup in 2016 under predecessor Joe Schmidt, is “unbelievably happy” with the squad depth at his disposal and keen to build competition moving towards the 2023 World Cup.
“To work with so many new players, it’s always very interesting,” said Farrell, who has seven men away with the British and Irish Lions and opted to rest a handful of other regulars for the summer series.
“That’s why these windows are so important. There are always one or two positions that you would like to see people coming through and have a little bit more depth but that’s a given in any type of squad, I would have thought.
“We’re unbelievably happy with the depth, it’s the competition now, it’s people going home after this window and really having a good think after the summer whether they consistently want to be back in the room and be not just a one-capper or a five-capper but can they have the hunger and consistency and knowhow to get themselves to 30 caps and that’s the kind of attitude we want.
“Growing competition is absolutely key. If we’ve got five or six players in each position that are really, really competing against each other then two years on when we get to the World Cup, it will start looking after itself. “
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