Captain Iain Henderson has urged Ireland’s World Cup hopefuls to set aside any lingering anxiety about selection and play their way into Andy Farrell’s final squad.

Head coach Farrell will reveal his 33-man group for the tournament on Sunday afternoon in Dublin, having decided to bring forward the announcement by 24 hours.

Players have one final chance to secure a return ticket to France during Saturday evening’s warm-up clash with Samoa in Bayonne, with six set to suffer disappointment.

Ulster lock Henderson, who is preparing for his third World Cup, admits tension has increased in camp ahead of the looming cut.

“Close to half the squad haven’t been in this position before,” said the 31-year-old.

“What the players are focusing on is how they’re going to put their best foot forward for Faz (Farrell) to get a good glimpse of them.

“He knows each one of us pretty intimately at this stage and I feel that the final step that the players can take is to actually go out and show it again in the Test match this weekend.

“I think there is a type of anxiety there but the players are well used to being put in sticky situations, selections for cup finals, selections for tours, selections for Six Nations games.

“Obviously this one carries a slightly different weight but we’re a really tight-knit group, the guys who are feeling probably the worst about it are probably the best supported.”

Farrell has regularly insisted all 33 places in his squad remain up for grabs.

Yet, in reality, only a few spots appear undecided, leaving a handful of peripheral players battling it out.

It is unclear whether the Englishman will go for a 19/14 split of forwards and backs, or opt for 18/15.

The former would likely mean Stuart McCloskey and Keith Earls, who are set to start against Samoa at Stade Jean Dauger, and Jacob Stockdale and Ciaran Frawley, who will not be involved, are competing for one spot.

Hookers Dan Sheehan and Ronan Kelleher, number eight Jack Conan and prop Dave Kilcoyne each have injury problems, albeit Farrell has been upbeat on those issues.

“Everyone’s looking after each other and ensuring whoever is left out will feel as little left out as possible,” said Henderson.

“I feel that the guys really do look out for each other and there’s a genuine care for how each other is feeling.”

Ireland’s World Cup campaign starts against Romania on September 9 in Bordeaux.

Their weekend clash with Samoa is the first meeting between the sides since the Irish won 47-5 at the 2019 tournament in Japan.

“This is their pre-World Cup campaign, similar to ours, coming to a crescendo,” said Henderson.

“It’s an exciting time for them, looking to have a shot at us. We’re looking to play the game we like to play.

“They pose huge threats, they’re definitely a different animal to the last time we played them.”

Keith Earls has a “burning desire” to travel to the fourth World Cup of his career after celebrating his 100th Ireland cap with a stunning try on an emotional outing against England.

Munster wing Earls led out his country alongside his three daughters on Saturday evening in Dublin before marking the occasion in style by coming off the bench to seal a 29-10 victory with a superb diving finish.

The 35-year-old received a host of touching tributes ahead of the landmark appearance at the Aviva Stadium, while his family were invited into camp on Thursday.

Earls went a year without international action due to injury issues before lining up against Italy at the start of the month but insists he did not return solely on sentimental grounds as he eyes a place on the plane to France.

“That’s the reason I’m here, that’s the reason I came back for pre-season, that’s the reason I’m doing everything possible to stay fit,” he said of World Cup selection.

“I have that burning desire to give myself the best chance of going to the World Cup and I tell you one thing I’d hate to be the coaches trying to pick their 33-man squad. It’s going to be tough.”

Andy Farrell is due to reduce his squad by five to a final 33 following next weekend’s clash with Samoa in Bayonne.

His Six Nations champions registered a 12th consecutive win by comfortably dispatching Steve Borthwick’s side.

The unassuming Earls, who added to scores from Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose, James Lowe and Mack Hansen with his 36th Ireland try, felt a little uncomfortable in the spotlight and feared being left embarrassed as an unused replacement following the big build up.

“I was saying to the lads, it was probably the worst week of my life with all the attention around the 100th cap,” he said.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done on Thursday trying to keep the tears out of my eyes around all of the lads.

“But I think I managed to do it, so that was grand.

“I’m delighted everything worked out perfectly and there’s not a better bunch of lads to do it with.

“It was hell sitting on the bench. It was nerve-wracking, thinking: ‘will he put me on? This will be very embarrassing after everything I’ve gone through’.”

In addition to receiving video messages from the likes of Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll and former coaches Declan Kidney and Joe Schmidt, Earls was presented with his milestone cap by head coach Farrell, while captain Johnny Sexton and forwards coach Paul O’Connell gave speeches.

A more offbeat homage came from team-mate Hansen, who shaved the initials KE and the number 100 into an eye-catching green haircut before claiming the man of the match award against England.

“He actually came in with just his hair dyed green and then he got this idea he wanted to cut a shamrock into the side of his head,” said Earls.

“That kind of went a bit pear-shaped and then he was like, ‘let’s get KE 100 into my head’.

“I was sitting in the team room and I was like, I want no part in this and walked away and then Craig (Casey) sent me a picture and what a horrendous job they had done on it.

“That man (Hansen), he’s such a unique character in rugby.

“When you can act like that and cut your hair like that and then go out and perform like that, you just have to leave him be.”

England head coach Steve Borthwick hopes for swift disciplinary resolutions after Billy Vunipola joined Owen Farrell as a World Cup doubt following his dismissal in a damaging 29-10 defeat to Ireland.

Captain Farrell watched from the stands in Dublin as England slipped to a meek loss compounded by the second-half red card of Saracens team-mate Vunipola for ploughing into the head of Andrew Porter.

Influential fly-half Farrell was free to feature in the warm-up game but was ultimately left out following World Rugby’s appeal against the decision to overturn the red card he received in last weekend’s win over Wales.

With England’s World Cup opener against Argentina on September 9 fast approaching, Borthwick faces potentially being without two of his key men through suspension for the start of the tournament in France.

He was tight-lipped on Vunipola’s tackle, but is eager for matters to be concluded quickly on the back of the disruption already caused by the ongoing Farrell saga.

“I’m not going to comment upon the incident specifically because it goes into a disciplinary process this coming week,” said Borthwick.

“Probably as every England fan, I feel disappointment in the game today and I said beforehand we want 15 players on the pitch for 80 minutes of every game.

“You’re playing the number one ranked side in the world in their stadium and to go to 14 men it becomes a very difficult task at that point in time

“Hopefully we will find a conclusion on both matters this week and it won’t go into another week. Once I have all the facts, I will deal with them.

“We talked about the way this Test week was disrupted (by the Farrell situation) and I need to adapt throughout the week. It’s another challenge that’s been thrown at us.”

England offered little at the Aviva Stadium, even before falling a man down when Vunipola’s 53rd-minute sin-binning was upgraded to a red on review.

Tries from centres Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose gave Ireland control at the break, before scores from James Lowe, Mack Hansen and Keith Earls sealed a comprehensive victory.

Replacement prop Kyle Sinckler crossed for England, but it was scant consolation on a difficult evening when stuttering World Cup preparations were thrown into further disarray.

“Whilst I’m incredibly disappointed with the result, the players kept fighting,” said Borthwick.

“I thought the players that came off the bench added on the pitch.

“Just before half-time at 7-3, we missed some opportunities and turned over ball in the final third, so we weren’t able to put enough pressure on them.

“When it was 15 against 15 it was a tight battle, unfortunately it didn’t stay 15 on 15.”

Ireland retained their place at the top of the world rankings courtesy of a 12th successive win.

Earls stepped off the bench to mark his 100th cap in style with his 36th international try as the hosts overcame a disjointed opening period.

Head coach Andy Farrell said: “It had a bit of everything: good, bad and ugly.

“I wasn’t too happy at half-time. We had them in a place where we could push a little bit harder and make it a little bit easier for ourselves but we didn’t kick on.

“I was really pleased that we found or rhythm back into the game. I thought we scored some great tries.

“Obviously the story of the day is it’s very fitting that Keith gets his 100th cap and we made sure he does that with a W and also him scoring a try in Keith Earls style in the corner just made the day for everyone really.”

Hooker Dan Sheehan limped off shortly before half-time, with Farrell waiting to discover the extent of that issue.

“Dan’s lost a bit of power in his foot,” he said. “We won’t know until we get it scanned. We’ll probably know more in the morning.”

Billy Vunipola was sent off as England’s stuttering World Cup preparations were thrown into further disarray by a costly 29-10 defeat to Ireland amid Owen Farrell’s ongoing disciplinary saga.

The number eight is likely to miss the start of the tournament in France after his 53rd-minute yellow card for making contact with the head of Andrew Porter was upgraded to red.

Steve Borthwick’s men were comfortably dispatched in a disjointed Dublin affair, which influential captain Farrell sat out following the fallout of his dismissal against Wales last weekend.

Vunipola’s premature departure compounded a meek display and he will now join Saracens team-mate Farrell in facing a disciplinary panel with England’s World Cup opener against Argentina on September 9 fast approaching.

Keith Earls marked his 100th cap by claiming the fifth of Ireland’s tries, adding to scores from Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose, James Lowe and Mack Hansen, as the hosts retained their place at the top of the world rankings courtesy of a 12th successive win.

Andy Farrell’s dominant side were far from their free-flowing best but still had too much for their depleted rivals, although the first-half departure of hooker Dan Sheehan is a concern.

Replacement prop Kyle Sinckler claimed a late try shortly before Earls stylishly celebrated his milestone appearance but it was little consolation for the visitors.

England crossed the Irish Sea seeking the greatest win of the Borthwick era so far to ignite their World Cup build-up but they were in unconvincing form especially with the situation surrounding skipper Farrell dominating headlines.

Replacement fly-half Ford slotted an early penalty before the away team were swiftly put on the back foot as a superb break from Peter O’Mahony allowed Aki to charge beyond Ben Youngs and touch down under the posts, leaving Ross Byrne with a simple conversion.

While England have endured a tumultuous time since finishing runners-up at the 2019 World Cup in Japan, Six Nations champions Ireland have enjoyed an impressive period of progression masterminded by head coach Farrell.

The Englishman fielded the bulk of his star names for the first time since clinching the Grand Slam against Borthwick’s men in March, which perhaps explained frustrating levels of rustiness in a fragmented opening period littered with stoppages.

Ford missed the chance to reduce England’s deficit with a second penalty before Ireland’s Sheehan hobbled off due to an apparent injury.

There looked like being no further inroads on the scoreboard before the break until Hansen’s clever cross-field kick exposed the opposition’s defence, with Ringrose inadvertently propelled over the try-line by a combination of Elliot Daly and Freddie Steward.

England, who are expected to learn the fate of Farrell in midweek, offered very little from an attacking perspective in a fairly forgettable first half which they ended 12-3 behind.

Their evening quickly took a turn for the worse when Vunipola ploughed into Porter.

Referee Paul Williams initially deemed the sin-bin to be sufficient punishment but the England back-rower, whose trudge from the field coincided with Farrell flashing up the big screen to a chorus of boos, would not return.

Ireland wasted little time in capitalising on their numerical advantage as Lowe was afforded yards of space to catch Byrne’s pass and cross wide on the left, before Hansen added to their misery by diving over on the other flank.

England’s attempts to avoid a drubbing were helped by Sinckler bulldozing over.

But they were powerless to prevent Ireland registering a fourth consecutive win in this fixture, with veteran wing Earls raising the roof thanks to a spectacular diving finish on his landmark outing.

Ireland and England step up preparations for the World Cup when they clash in a warm-up fixture in Dublin.

The rivals are at very different stages of their development.

Here the PA news agency examines five talking points ahead of their 141st meeting on Saturday.

Absent Farrell takes centre stage

Both teams are at close to full strength yet for all the stars on parade at the Aviva Stadium, the spotlight shines on a notable absentee. Owen Farrell was due to lead England in their penultimate fixture before facing Argentina in a pivotal Pool D fixture but instead Steve Borthwick’s captain and talisman is preparing for his second appearance before rugby’s judiciary in a week. The outcry at the decision to rescind his red card against Wales has seen World Rugby lodge an appeal, extending the controversy into a second week and disrupting England’s preparations both for Ireland and the World Cup.

England under siege

Borthwick knew he was leaping into the deep end when he took over a side that had lost its way under Eddie Jones, but even the resilient and thick skinned Cumbrian must be reeling from the controversy that has erupted around Farrell, who he claims is the victim of “personal attacks” on his character. On the field England have yet to provide any meaningful evidence of progress under Borthwick, who is fighting multiple fires including a disciplinary implosion against Wales with the World Cup starting in three weeks’ time.

Ford’s chance to shine

Into the fly-half breach steps George Ford, who makes his first Test start since 2021. The Sale ringmaster was outstanding as a replacement against Wales last Saturday and with Farrell likely to miss the start of the World Cup if the appeal succeeds, he has the opportunity to step out of his captain’s shadow and direct an attack that has yet to take shape under Borthwick. Assisting England’s smartest player is a well balanced centre partnership of Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant in what could be the first choice backline.

On the comeback trail

Ollie Chessum will make his long-awaited return from the serious ankle injury sustained during the Six Nations when he steps off the bench in Dublin. The 22-year-old Leicester second row was England’s breakout star of the Championship, bringing athleticism and energy to the engine room. With the World Cup fast approaching his return is well timed for England, although Tom Curry’s ongoing absence with his own ankle issue remains a concern.

Andy Farrell’s top dogs

Ireland will concede their place at the top of the world rankings to New Zealand if they lose to England and could fall as low as fourth should other results go against them, but the prospect of that happening is remote. Andy Farrell’s Six Nations champions have won the last three Tests against their rivals and are poised to make an impact at the World Cup, even if they are positioned on the savage side of the draw. Connacht back row Cian Prendergast is the latest talent to roll off the green production line with Farrell describing the full debutant as a “warrior”, while Keith Earls is poised to win his 100th cap off the bench.

Steve Borthwick believes Owen Farrell has been the target of “personal attacks” as England’s captain once again confronts the possibility of missing the start of the World Cup.

Borthwick has joined Andy Farrell in defending the 31-year-old, who must face rugby’s judiciary for the second time in a week after World Rugby appealed against the decision to rescind his red card for a dangerous tackle on Wales’ Taine Basham.

Andy Farrell, the head coach of Saturday’s opponents Ireland, offered impassioned support of his son by declaring that “the circus that’s gone on in and around all of this is absolutely disgusting”.

Borthwick had intended to select Farrell for the Dublin clash but revised that plan amid the furious outcry over the original disciplinary hearing’s failure to impose a suspension.

Instead, George Ford lines-up as chief playmaker against the sport’s number-one ranked side with Marcus Smith providing cover off the bench.

Farrell has travelled to Ireland with the squad but will be a spectator only as Borthwick anticipates the additional turmoil that will now affect England’s World Cup preparations when the saga enters a second week.

“Unfortunately, given the disruption to his week and the intrusion in terms of his preparation, I made the decision to pull him out of the team that he would otherwise have led this weekend,” Borthwick said.

“The situation is one I find really disappointing. We thought we had reached a conclusion in this matter on Tuesday.

“It had an impact in terms of the disruption for this week and now it’s going to be ongoing into the next Test week.

“The situation with the England team – and Owen in particular – seems to be amplified.

“The commentary around it seems to move from issues around the tackle to personal attacks on the character of the man, which I think is just wrong.

“We all feel for him and we all feel it when one of our group is on the receiving end of such personal attacks – we all feel it.

“Owen has handled himself through this process in a really respectful manner. We will continue to respect the process and the decision that is reached.

“One of the most experienced and senior panels that deal with these matters dealt with it on Tuesday. We thought it was the conclusion.

“Now, another panel is being convened to try and find some holes in what was done on Tuesday. Again, we will conduct ourselves in a manner that respects the process.

“The final two weeks of our World Cup preparation are going to be disrupted by this matter.”

Farrell is in fresh danger of missing the pivotal World Cup opener against Argentina on September 9 with the potential for a six-week ban – the mid-range sanction for dangerous tackle offences – back on the horizon.

The Saracens fly-half received a yellow card in the 63rd minute of Saturday’s 19-17 victory over Wales but this was upgraded to red by the bunker review system, which is being trialled in the Summer Nations Series.

At Tuesday’s hearing the Saracens fly-half accepted that he had made contact with Basham’s head, that it was a dangerous tackle and that the degree of danger involved warranted a red card.

However, he successfully argued there was mitigation that made the offence worthy of a sin-binning only when Jamie’s George’s attempted tackle on Basham caused the Wales flanker into a sudden change in movement and drop in head height.

The PA news agency understands that World Rugby will look to prove that on the balance of probabilities the tackle was never legal and therefore no mitigation should have applied.

It is stated in World Rugby’s guidelines state mitigation does not apply for “always-illegal acts of foul play”.

Farrell’s absence means that Courtney Lawes leads a starting XV that is close to full strength, bolstered by the presence of wing Anthony Watson and centre Manu Tuilagi, who are making their first appearances of the warm-up fixtures.

Second row Ollie Chessum will make his comeback from the serious ankle injury sustained during the Six Nations when he appears off the bench.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has branded the “circus” around son Owen Farrell’s disciplinary process “absolutely disgusting”.

The England captain’s participation in the World Cup is in fresh doubt after World Rugby appealed against the decision to overturn his red card from Saturday’s clash with Wales.

An independent disciplinary panel caused an outcry on Tuesday when it cleared 31-year-old Farrell to play following his shoulder-led tackle to the head of Taine Basham, which was expected to result in a significant ban.

England head coach Steve Borthwick has subsequently opted to leave the Saracens fly-half out of his squad for Saturday’s World Cup warm-up clash against Ireland in Dublin.

Farrell senior, who concedes his view on the situation is not impartial,  expressed anger at some of the intense criticism his son has faced.

“Whatever I say is probably flawed anyway,” said the 48-year-old.

“When you’re talking about somebody’s son and asking the question, it’s always going to be flawed, so what does that really matter?

“I don’t normally say too much because of that type of reason about my son.

“But what I probably would say at this moment in time is that the circus that’s gone on in and around all of this is absolutely disgusting, in my opinion, disgusting.

“I suppose those people that have loved their time in the sun get a few more days to keep going at that.”

Ireland back-rower Cian Prendergast will make his first Test start in Saturday’s World Cup warm-up clash with England in Dublin.

The Connacht player, who has won two caps as a replacement, has been selected at number eight, with the influential Caelan Doris providing back-up from the bench.

Andy Farrell has recalled 11 of the team which clinched Six Nations Grand Slam glory against Steve Borthwick’s men in March.

Centre Garry Ringrose and lock Tadhg Beirne, who were both injured for that 29-16 win, and fly-half Ross Byrne join Prendergast in coming in to a strong starting XV.

Munster wing Keith Earls is poised to win his 100th cap from the bench.

Prendergast came on in the first half of Ireland’s 33-17 win over Italy on August 5 in place of the injured Jack Conan.

With Conan still sidelined by a foot issue, the 23-year-old is given a major opportunity to provide competition for key man Doris, who was named man of the match following two tries against the Azzurri.

Head coach Farrell has named a completely different team to the experimental side which began that match.

Huw Jones is adamant Scotland are not fazed by sharing a heavyweight World Cup group with the might of Ireland and South Africa.

The fact the draw was made in 2020 has led to a top-heavy pool B containing three of the five best teams in the world on current form.

With Ireland ranked number one, and world champions South Africa fourth on the list, the burgeoning Scots – despite being up to fifth themselves – will be up against it to reach the knockout phase.


However, three tightly-contested games against second-ranked France this year – including last Saturday’s agonising 30-27 defeat in Saint-Etienne – allied to strong periods against the likes of New Zealand and Ireland over the past year – have given the Scots genuine hope that they can finish in the top two in their section and progress to the latter stages.

“It is a tough pool, and if people see us as underdogs we don’t mind that,” said centre Jones. “We know how good we can be and a game like Saturday’s, against a side ranked second in the world, gives us a lot of confidence.

“We think we can beat anyone, it’s just about putting together a complete performance. We’re not fazed by the group, we’re really looking forward to it, but we know we need to be at our best to beat the top teams and get out of our pool.”

The Scots have lost 32-21 and 30-27 in their two away matches against the formidable French this year, while they defeated Les Bleus 25-21 at Murrayfield earlier this month.

All three matches against the highly-fancied World Cup hosts incorporated strong fightbacks from Gregor Townsend’s side and Jones feels if they can cut out the minor issues that are leaving them trailing in the first place, they are playing well enough to fancy their chances against any opposition.

“We weren’t really happy with our first-half performance at home to France but we were a lot better in the second half,” said Jones.

“Then in Saint-Etienne, against France’s strongest team, it was a more complete performance in terms of the full 80 minutes, although it’s still about those small margins for us.

“We feel like we’re there and thereabouts but there’s also stuff we can work on. I think Saturday will spur us on to improve even more.

“We always want to win but I think a narrow loss like that away to one of the top teams in the world is good for the confidence. We know we can go toe-to-toe with the best and we feel we can win those games.

“We take confidence from that but we also know there are areas we have to tighten up in and not make a couple of silly errors that can cost us close games.

“Going out to France twice this year and running them so close in those games gives us real confidence, especially as the World Cup is out there.”

As long as there are no slip-ups against Georgia in their final warm-up match at Murrayfield a week on Saturday, the Scots will head out to France at the start of September on the back of an encouraging summer campaign in which they have already defeated Italy and France in Edinburgh.

“We’re feeling good,” said Jones. “It’s been a tough pre-season.

“The fitness is there and the game fitness is coming along. We’ve got one more game against Georgia to really sharpen up and then we’re into the tournament.

“I think we’re in a really good place but we want to win that game against Georgia and put in a really good performance, which will give us confidence going into that first game against South Africa.”

Ireland insist Jack Conan’s latest foot injury is “nothing like” the issue which ruined his last Rugby World Cup and are optimistic he will be fit to feature in France.

Andy Farrell’s squad are in Portugal for a week-long training camp but back-rower Conan stayed in Dublin to rehabilitate the problem he sustained in the first half of Saturday’s 33-17 warm-up victory over Italy.

The 31-year-old was pictured with his right foot in a protective boot after departing the Aviva Stadium pitch, sparking concerns he will endure further World Cup heartache, having prematurely left the 2019 tournament in Japan due to a stress fracture.

Ireland boss Farrell will not discover the full extent of the problem until next week but defence coach Simon Easterby says early signs are “positive”.

Asked if Leinster player Conan is in danger of missing the World Cup, Easterby, speaking from the Algarve, said: “No, genuinely not.

“Jack has in the past had troubles with his foot.

“But it’s nothing like it was back in 2019. He was pretty bullish around the injury.

“From everything that we’re hearing – we haven’t had full feedback yet – it’s a positive injury as a opposed to a really negative one.

“He’s stayed behind just to rehab and we hope to get more information on his injury next week.

“We’re still waiting on assessment and we decided that it would probably be best for him to stay back in Dublin.”

British and Irish Lion Conan spoke last week of having unfinished business at the World Cup due to his disappointment four years ago.

He came off the bench in Ireland’s opening win over Scotland in Yokohama but was then injured in training ahead of the shock defeat by hosts Japan, a match he had been due to start.

Farrell will his cut his current 42-man squad down to a final 33 on August 28 following further warm-up matches against England (August 19) and Samoa (August 26).

Ireland begin their World Cup campaign on September 9 against Romania in Bordeaux.

Andy Farrell expects rookie fly-half Jack Crowley to take “massive confidence” from the experience of running the show for Ireland in their 33-17 World Cup warm-up win over Italy.

Johnny Sexton’s three-match ban opened the door for his understudies to stake claims during the lead up to the tournament, with Crowley the first to be given an opportunity.

The 23-year-old, who is also competing with Ross Byrne and Ciaran Frawley for a place on the plane to France, produced an assured performance against the Azzurri on the occasion of his second Test start to strengthen his case for further action.

Unlike his full Ireland debut, when he was elevated from the bench at the 11th hour for the autumn victory over Australia due to Sexton’s late withdrawal, Crowley was given a full week to prepare.

Head coach Farrell is planning a midweek debrief with the Munster man but was encouraged by his showing on Saturday evening in Dublin.

“He did well,” said the Englishman. “Certainly in the first half, he controlled the game very well.

“I didn’t think he overplayed too much. He looked composed enough.

“There are a few things we’ll chat about during the week that will help his performance but he will be glad to get that one done.

“Another experience where he’s started at 10 and this time he’s been able to run the week, so he’ll gain massive confidence from that.”

Crowley’s mature display at the Aviva Stadium included slotting three of four conversions as two Caelan Doris tries, plus scores from Dave Kilcoyne, Stuart McCloskey and Cian Healy, secured a victory which Farrell termed “a bit clunky”.

He filled in at full-back for the second period due to Jimmy O’Brien’s shoulder injury, with debutant Frawley taking over at 10 and adding the extras on Doris’ second effort.

Farrell, whose side have further fixtures against England and Samoa this month, was less convinced following that reshuffle.

“We’ll have a look at the performances of the two of them playing together,” he said of Crowley and Frawley.

“We try and get two ball players playing together, whether that came to fruition or not, I’m not too sure at this moment in time.

“We started the second half pretty poorly really and didn’t really get going for a while there so we’ll have to look at that.”

Leinster player Frawley was one of three international newcomers from the bench alongside Ulster hooker Tom Stewart and Munster wing Calvin Nash.

The 25-year-old has been involved in Ireland training camps since November 2021 but had to be patient for his Test bow, partly due to an untimely injury.

“I’m delighted I got it and hopefully there will be more to come,” said Frawley, who is bidding to make the cut when Farrell chops his current 42-man squad down to a final 33 on August 28.

“It’s very competitive in there, it’s hard to believe they’re going to drop nine players.

“At the moment, you’re just trying to put your best foot forward and get selected for the games that are coming around the corner, focus on what’s coming.

“You obviously have the big picture in the back of your mind but, if you get ahead of yourself, you might not perform on the day.”

Nash, 25, added: “Naturally after getting our first caps, we want to push on and try to get to the World Cup for sure and get a few more caps. That’s the aim.”

Andy Farrell played down the severity of injuries suffered by Jack Conan, Jimmy O’Brien and Craig Casey during Ireland’s “clunky” World Cup warm-up win over Italy.

Number eight Conan was pictured in a protective boot following his first-half withdrawal in Dublin, while full-back O’Brien and scrum-half Casey were taken off with shoulder and back issues respectively.

Caelan Doris shone for the Guinness Six Nations champions with two tries in a 33-17 victory in which Dave Kilcoyne, Stuart McCloskey and replacement Cian Healy were also on the scoresheet.

Speaking of the injury concerns, head coach Farrell said: “They seem not too bad.

“Jimmy’s shoulder has shut down a little bit, it’s something he’s had in the past. Jack lost power in his foot, he seems OK.

“Craig had a tight back which was making his hamstring cramp. They were taken off as precautions more than anything.”

An experimental Ireland side recovered from a sluggish start at a subdued Aviva Stadium to take control of the contest but did not fully convince, despite the comfortable scoreline.

“To get up and running with a victory is nice, but I think we all know really that it was a bit clunky, to say the least, at times,” said Farrell.

“There was some really good stuff as far as possession is concerned and opportunities to convert were there in spades.

“But we weren’t patient enough to be able to convert that, so I think that’s the morale of the story really.”

Back-rower Doris, selected in an unfamiliar role at openside flanker, was the standout performer, while Ciaran Frawley, Calvin Nash and Tom Stewart came off the bench to make Test debuts.

“I’m sick of him getting man of the match,” joked Farrell.

“He just keeps getting better and better. We all know he’s good at jackalling and good over the ball and I don’t know whether he took that through the roof because he had a number seven on his back.

“He epitomises what we’re trying to do as far as the player being in control of his own mind.

“It doesn’t really matter whether he makes a mistake or two, he just gets on with the next job the whole time.

“He’s playing extremely well but he’s certainly growing as far as his leadership role is concerned as well. He’s coming on leaps and bounds.”

Ireland move on to a training camp in Portugal before taking on England and Samoa later this month.

Italy head coach Kieran Crowley said: “In the first half, we were dominated all over the place.

“Ireland were too good for us in that first half. Second half, we came back but we’ve still got a lot of work to do in our breakdown work and just in general with our management.

“I saw an improvement in that second half – we won the second half, I think, but that’s not winning the game.”

Caelan Doris shone and Jack Conan suffered an injury scare as Ireland launched their World Cup warm-up fixtures by easing to a 33-17 win over Italy in Dublin.

Back-rower Conan departed the field shortly before half-time and was later pictured in a protective boot on the bench.

Full-back Jimmy O’Brien and scrum-half Craig Casey were also withdrawn for treatment to give head coach Andy Farrell cause for concern ahead of his side’s campaign in France, which kicks off in just five weeks’ time.

An experimental side missing a host of rested stars, in addition to suspended skipper Johnny Sexton, overcame a sloppy beginning to cruise to a 15th successive home victory.

Doris’ two tries, plus scores from Dave Kilcoyne, Stuart McCloskey and Cian Healy, earned victory, while Jack Crowley and debutant Ciaran Frawley kicked six and two points respectively.

Lorenzo Pani and Tommaso Menoncello claimed consolations for Italy but they never threatened to shock the Six Nations champions.

Ireland were back in action for the first time since clinching the Grand Slam against England in March.

Farrell retained only three of the players who began that day as part of an unfamiliar XV, while Italy included England-born debutants Paolo Odogwu and Dino Lamb in a strong selection.

The Aviva Stadium was far from full for the late kick-off and Ireland’s sluggish start, during which Tommaso Allan’s early penalty put the visitors ahead, initially did little to enhance the subdued atmosphere.

Italy lost Saracens prop Marco Riccioni to injury inside 10 minutes and that setback was quickly compounded by Kilcoyne burrowing over at the other end to register his first Test try since November 2014.

The score settled Ireland down to an extent and they capitalised on Italian indiscipline to stretch the scoreboard just before the half-hour mark.

Doris claimed the second try of the evening, crashing over wide on the right, moments after Azzurri loosehead Danilo Fischetti was sin-binned for failing to retreat.

Conan’s 35th-minute departure was an unwelcome sight for Farrell but the hosts’ performance continued to improve, with man-of-the-match Doris proving to be a real menace.

The Leinster man, selected in the unfamiliar position of openside flanker, produced a crushing tackle on Stephen Varney deep inside Italian territory to pave the way for McCloskey to power over.

Crowley landed his third conversion of the evening to make it 21-3 at the interval.

Farrell shuffled his pack slightly for the restart, introducing the uncapped Frawley at fly-half and pushing Crowley to full-back in place of the withdrawn O’Brien, who had received treatment on a shoulder issue.

A further change was required just four minutes later as scrum-half Casey followed Conan and O’Brien into the treatment room.

Italy, whose only Dublin success came in 1997, had struggled for territory in the opening period.

But, on the back of some cheap penalties conceded by Ireland, they reduced their deficit in the 51st minute when Pani was afforded yards of space on the right to charge forward and hold off the attempts of Jacob Stockdale.

Replacement prop Healy then celebrated moving level with Rory Best as Ireland’s third most-capped player on 124 appearances with his 12th international try.

Menoncello again reduced the arrears for Italy 12 minutes from time before the impressive Doris had the final say.

Following a week’s training camp in Portugal, Ireland move to matches against England and Samoa with plenty of positives but some fitness concerns.

Andy Farrell insists squad depth will be key to Ireland achieving their dream of World Cup glory after handing opportunities to a number of fringe players for Saturday’s warm-up clash with Italy.

Munster’s Jack Crowley has been selected at fly-half in the absence of the suspended Johnny Sexton, with uncapped trio Ciaran Frawley, Tom Stewart and Calvin Nash among the replacements.

Just three players – centre Robbie Henshaw and back-rowers Caelan Doris and Ryan Baird – have been retained from the XV which began Ireland’s Grand Slam-clinching win over England back in March.

Ulster lock Iain Henderson will captain the side, lining up in the second row alongside Joe McCarthy, who will make his first international start, while wing Jacob Stockdale will play at Test level for the first time in two years.

Head coach Farrell, who is due to cut his 42-man squad down to a final 33 following further fixtures against England and Samoa, wants a full complement of players fit and firing moving towards the tournament in France but dismissed the notion he is experimenting.

“We’re at a stage where we’re all gagging for a game,” he said.

“And you are judging constantly how preparation’s going and trying to balance that out with a side that’s got the experience and youth.

“I’m 100 per cent sure there are some individuals that will take the field saying to themselves that ‘this a big chance and big opportunity for me’.

“You’ve got to surround those people with good enough experienced players as well to be able to judge them properly, so we’re looking forward to that.

“I wouldn’t say we’re experimenting.

“You win World Cups because of the strength of your squad so we’re trying to find out about people that have done so well to get picked in the initial 42 and now they’ve got the opportunity to represent the group.

“They know the expectation of how we want to play and what’s acceptable and what’s not.”

Sexton’s three-match ban has opened the door for rookie number 10s Crowley, Frawley and Ross Byrne to gain some much-needed Test experience during the next month.

In-form Crowley is the first to be handed an opportunity to impress, having starred during his province’s United Rugby Championship success at the end of last season.

“He has been excellent but how that transfers into a performance is different,” Farrell said of Crowley.

“He has been going great. I have seen his confidence grow, obviously from what happened with Munster, being able to help navigate his team through those difficult periods and get some success.

“The minute that selection comes, it’s a different week as far as managing the team and being the main general as far as Jack is concerned.

“We have been keeping a close eye on that and he has been excellent so far.”

Farrell was speaking publicly for the first time since Sexton, who has not played since the Guinness Six Nations due to injury, was hit with a three-match ban for misconduct.

“He’s been all systems go, right from the start,” the Englishman said of his 38-year-old skipper’s performances in training.

“He’s not missed a session, he’s not dropped out of anything. If there was a game two or three weeks ago, he was able to play, no doubt.

“Obviously he’s disappointed not to be able to play in these games but he’s in great form.”

Tadhg Beirne admits the scars of the last World Cup took a long time to heal and insists Ireland will do everything possible to avoid making the same mistakes.

Andy Farrell’s side go into the tournament in France at the top of the world rankings and buoyed by clinching a Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam on the back of a historic tour success in New Zealand.

Ireland were buzzing with similar belief under Joe Schmidt in 2019 before suffering an emphatic quarter-final exit to the All Blacks following a shock pool-stage loss to hosts Japan.

Munster lock Beirne believes the tone for that forgettable campaign was set during an underwhelming build-up, which included a record drubbing by England, and is determined to help prevent a repeat outcome as he prepares for Saturday’s warm-up clash with Italy.

“It was really disappointing to be honest, we had such expectations of ourselves and we probably felt like we didn’t fire on all cylinders,” he said of the 2019 tournament.

“Overall, just disappointment from the get-go.

“Even when you talk about warm-ups we didn’t particularly play well in them, did we? And that fed into the World Cup in terms of our performances over there.

“I think afterwards it took a long, long time to get over it so I’m certainly hoping that’s not the case this year and we’ll be doing everything we can to change that.”

Ireland begin the World Cup on September 9 against Romania in Bordeaux.

After hosting Italy, preparations continue when England visit the Aviva Stadium a fortnight later before a fixture against Samoa in Bayonne the following weekend provides a final chance for fine-tuning.

Beirne says the three upcoming matches are far from friendlies and acknowledges that any player not up to scratch is at risk of being dropped when head coach Farrell cuts his squad from 42 to 33 at the end of the month.

“You can certainly lose your spot in a World Cup squad if you don’t play well,” said the British and Irish Lion, who was restricted to a peripheral role for his country in Japan in 2019.

“As a squad we have a record at home that we are proud of at the moment, we are playing a certain type of rugby that we want to continue doing.

“We are looking at it very much as we would a Six Nations game or a November international game.

“It’s a Test match we want to win and we are going out there to prove a point, 100 per cent.”

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