Ireland vs USA preview: Fringe players eager to impress against USA
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 24/11/18 6:30pm
John Cooney and Darren Sweetnam have been included in the Ireland team to face USA on Saturday (kick-off 6.30pm), and both are conscious of seizing their opportunities with both hands.
Joe Schmidt has made 14 changes from the side that beat the All Blacks, as he gives a chance to those not involved in last weekend's heroics.
With the World Cup looming on the horizon, the competition for seats on the plane to Japan intensifies. Those selected for Saturday's encounter at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin know this is a golden opportunity.
"Obviously, these opportunities don't come around too often," said Munster winger Sweetnam, who is in line for this third cap. "The last time I put on an Ireland jersey was nearly over a year ago. It's a massive opportunity and I'm really looking forward to it.
"There's so much competition which is a great thing going forward into a World Cup year. There are so few opportunities [for me], that I need to make the most of it when it comes around."
"We'll try and make it (the World Cup squad selection) as difficult for Joe as we can."
Ulster scrum-half Cooney, who is set to make his first international start, echoed the sentiment: "It's just important that I fit into the team. Last week we talked about the collective nature of our team, trying to be better than New Zealand.
"It's good to be back in with Joe, I was in the summer so, it's just getting up to date with all the plays and stuff like that and just fitting into the team. Just doing my basics; passing, kicking well and if opportunities open up that's exactly what I need."
Schmidt himself made it clear that it was always his intention to rotate the squad this month.
"There's some tired lads from last week, and it was always part of the plan," explained the Kiwi head coach. "The two games that book-ended this particular series (against Italy and USA) gave us an opportunity to broaden the squad.
"We had 43 players in total and we wanted to make sure that we got a look at all 43 players at some stage. And that we gave them all opportunity. It's fantastic that they've taken that opportunity in the main, they've taken responsibility for really positive preparation and hopefully we can finish this bracket of four games on a positive note on Saturday."
Ireland: 15 Will Addison, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Darren Sweetnam, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 John Cooney; 1 Dave Kilcoyne, 2 Niall Scannell, 3 Finlay Bealham, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Iain Henderson, 6 Rhys Ruddock (c), 7 Jordi Murphy, 8 Jack Conan.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Cian Healy, 18 John Ryan, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Josh van Der Flier, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Sam Arnold.
United States: 15 Will Hooley, 14 Blaine Scully (c), 13 Bryce Campbell, 12 Paul Lasike, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Will Magie, 9 Shaun Davies; 1 Titi Lamositele, 2 Joe Taufete'e, 3 Paul Mullen, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Nick Civetta, 6 John Quill, 7 Hanco Germishuys, 8 Cam Dolan.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Fawsitt, 17 Chance Wenglewski, 18 Dino Waldren, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 David Tameilau, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Gannon Moore, 23 Ryan Matyas.