With the Rugby world cup just around the corner all of the teams are getting in their final preparations before settling on their squad of 31 players. Part of this every cycle is to play some warm up matches and test out the players before making that crucial decision of who to put on the plane to Japan.
There are a few countries in with a good shout of winning the world cup and picking the right squad is a big part of it. All of these teams would have a large selection to choose from and there are always places up for grabs in rugby.
However, rugby being such a tough and physical sport there is always the danger of injury especially when you are practicing against other top teams to get ready. It has been seen many times over the past few world cups that crucial players have missed out from an injury sustained in the weeks before the competition. While there are lots of good players to choose from, most teams tend to have a few crucial players that they can't do without.
I can think of a few for Ireland.
With only one game played in the warm-ups we have already had a few scares with Joey Carbery being the worst so far. It's expected that he will be fit for the world cup but he is a player that a lot is expected from. He would have played most of the warm up games and with his other team mate and the vice captain Johnny Sexton now 34 years of age and prone to injury it's safe to say that he would have gotten a lot of game time in the world cup as well. This is helped by the fact he can play in multiple positions and has that x factor to change a game.
It throws up another question now though. Do management play Johnny for the warm-ups and risk their no1 outhalf or go with the number 3 choice who might not see any action in the tournament. Johnny would have gotten some minutes in the warm up games but he is far too valuable to play all of them.
It's a tough question to ask and it won't be the last injury before the place takes off so what is the best way to go???
Who would want to be a manager when all of these choices will be dragged through every paper whether they win or lose. We still have to play England and Wales who are strong physical teams and will surely cost us a few more players before we see Japan. It's all going to come down to the coach but it's a fine line between having the team match fit for the games and having them fit at all.