‘Ireland’s World Cup just starting’

The pivotal clashes in Pool D remain further ahead, with Italy and France the two main challengers for the top spot in the group and a likely quarter-final against Argentina.


But whether the performance was clinical enough to cause Joe Schmidt to deviate from the front-line side, which started in the opening win over Canada, must be open to doubt.

This means each game is more hard than the last, and players can focus on raising their intensity and performance levels week after week.

There does not seem to be too much leeway for Tommy Bowe or Devin Toner to break back into the first fifteen based on the form of Dave Kearney, Earls and Iain Henderson. He then set up Earls’s first touchdown with a superb long pass.

Leinster duo Ian Madigan and Limerick scrum half Eoin Reddan come in for their second Test start together at half-back, having previously lined out alongside each other against Georgia last November.

“Joe’s made big calls before”, Henry added.

Irish eyes are smiling again, and though it’s at the expense of Tier Two teams, the team hasn’t put up these kind of numbers since the 2011 Cup in New Zealand. The search for a fourth try and a potentially vital bonus point would however see a repeat of the same Romania resistance which had kept the scoreline respectable at half time and against France 96 hours previous.

DTH van der Merwe of Victoria, also from JBAA, scored the lone Canadian try on a near field-length interception return of an attempted Irish chip kick.

Veteran lock Ovidiu Tonita was sprung from the bench on Wednesday night to become the fourth Romanian player to play at four World Cups.

It was a brilliant piece of skill from Zebo but TMO showed the winger to have planted his left foot in touch and the score was ruled out.

Brilliant footwork by Zebo puts him into space down the wing and he unselfishly picks out a pass to give Rob Kearney his first score since coming on as a sub. “I want to play every week”, he said.

Asides from the half-back, the back row combination has been the most settled area of Ireland’s team for the past season or two. Even the eve of match Captain’s Run was held at pace. We’ve looked at Romania pretty deeply, we’ve been able to look at their games, the video guys have done great work getting a lot of footage of them.

Ireland: Zebo, Bowe, Payne, Cave, Earls, Madigan, Reddan, Healy, Strauss, White, Ryan, Toner, Murphy, Henry, Heaslip, R. Kearney.

Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster), Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster), Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster).


Romania: Fercu, Apostol, Kinikinilau, Gal, Botezatu, Wiringi, Calafeteanu, A. Ursache, Radoi, Ion, Popirlan, Tonita, Lucaci, Macovei, Carpo, Burcea.

Cian Healy starts as Joe Schmidt names his side to face Romania