Ireland vs Tonga Rugby World Cup 2023 predicted lineups – Sexton to start again?

Ireland made the perfect start to their Rugby World Cup 2023 campaign in which they carry a heavy weight of expectation. Andy Farrell’s men have aspirations of winning their first ever Rugby World Cup and started on the right foot with an 82-8 win over Romania last Saturday.

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Tonga, on the other hand, are yet to start their campaign and face a tough curtain-raiser against an in form and hungry Irish team off the back of a huge win. Toutai Kefu’s men have an electric team brimming with new talent and are hoping to make a huge impact at this year’s World Cup.

Ireland v Tonga predicted lineups and team news

Ireland team news

Ireland picked a near-full strength side to face Romania, a big risk considering they are the lowest  ranked nation in the group. However, they luckily escaped the test with no injuries and with key players getting important game time under their belt.

Saying that, Jack Conan will not be fit for the Tonga match, however, Dave Kilcoyne, Dan Sheehan and Robbie Henshaw are all rumoured to return.

The big question is whether Farrell will start star fly half Johnny Sexton again. The 38-year-old has had a myriad of issues with injuries as of late and eyebrows were raised when he was picked to play Romania, seemingly a game they could win without risking him. Nonetheless, Sexton played almost the whole match before being replaced late on by Jack Crowley and scored two tries. This brings into question whether he will start again against Tonga with tougher tests ahead against Scotland and South Africa.

Ireland predicted lineup

  1. Dave Kilcoyne
  2. Rob Herring
  3. Finlay Bealham
  4. Iain Henderson
  5. Ryan Baird
  6. Peter O’Mahony
  7. Josh van der Flier
  8. Caelan Doris
  9. Conor Murray
  10. Ross Byrne
  11. James Lowe
  12. Stuart McCloskey
  13. Robbie Henshaw
  14. Mack Hansen
  15. Jimmy O’Brien

16. Dan Sheehan, 17. Andrew Porter, 18. Tadgh Furlong, 19. James Ryan, 20. Tadgh Beirne, 21. Jamison Gibson-Park 22. Johnny Sexton 23. Hugo Keenan/Garry Ringrose

We think Farrell will switch the team up for this test. It wouldn’t make sense to play a ‘rested’ team in the first round, it makes more sense to do it mid-tournament. Sexton won’t start and don’t be surprised if he isn’t named on the bench either, with Casey in for Gibson-Park.

Tonga team news

Tonga have bolstered their side with former All Blacks such as Charles Piutau, Vaea Fifita, George Moala and Malakai Fekitoa and former Wallaby, Adam Coleman, converting their allegiance thanks to World Rugby’s new eligibility laws.

Their only unavailable player will be George Moala who was banned for the first three games of the World Cup for a dangerous tip-tackle in the warm-up match versus Canada.

Tonga predicted team

  1. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi
  2. Siua Maile
  3. Ben Tameifuna
  4. Adam Coleman
  5. Sam Lousi
  6. Vaea Fifita
  7. Solomone Funaki
  8. Sione Havili Talitui
  9. Sonatane Takulua
  10. William Havili
  11. Afusipa Taumopeau
  12. Pita Ahki
  13. Malakai Fekitoa
  14. Solomone Kata
  15. Charles Piutau

16. Paula Ngauamo, 17. Tau Koloamatangi, 18. David Lolohea, 19. Tanginoa Halaifonua, 20. Sione Vailanu, 21. Manu Paea, 22. Otuimaka Mausia, 23. Fine Inisi

Cut and dry for Tonga who were consistent in their selection throughout the warm-ups, Moala’s ban ends any competition between him and Fekitoa for the 13 shirt.

Players to watch: Mack Hansen and Charles Piutau

Mack Hansen came off the bench and made an impact against Romania last week. If he is picked to start and Ireland end up pulling away, the natural finisher could get himself on the scoresheet two or three times.

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On the other hand, if Tonga are to pull off a massive upset, Charles ‘Salesi’ Piutau will have a huge hand to play in it. The hot-stepping fullback has been lighting up club rugby for the years since his last All Blacks, itching to be back on the international scene.

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