Alan Quinlan was as surprised as anyone when he was named as the Irish number seven to play Argentina in Sunday's decisive Pool A match at the Adelaide Oval.
Quinlan won the spot ahead of regular opensider Keith Gleeson as part of a
trio of loose forwards picked specifically to counter the Pumas' aggressive,
"With the competition in the back row I was not sure what the team was going
to be or what the back row was going to be," he said.
"I have to admit I was a little bit surprised but I was really, really happy
that I was starting," he said.
Well known for the power and aggression in his own game, the 29-year-old is
looking forward to pitting his skills and strength against Argentina.
However, his background as a blindside flanker, a position where defence is a
more pressing concern than attack, means he has to prove himself in the more
"They are probably not going to go wide that often.
"They are going to hit
quite close, so effectively we are going to be two number sixes," he said.
"I have no problem playing at seven, because I played a full season at seven
last year for Munster, and the way the modern game has gone there is not much of
a difference now so I don't see it as a problem.
"I would regard it as one of the positive things of my game that I play the
game quite physically".
His selection, along with Simon Easterby at blindside and Victor Costello at
number eight, means Gleeson does not even make the match-day 22, while Eric
Miller is on the bench.
"The competition in the back row is really intense and you just have to look
at the situation with David Wallace and a quality player like him being left at
Quinlan made his Ireland debut in the last World Cup when he played against
Romania in Dublin aged 25, making him a relatively late bloomer on an
international stage. But that, he says, has its advantages.
"Maybe it has been a good thing for me. I have got a decent run in the squad
in the last 18 months, so it is probably a bit of maturity and a bit of
experience that has helped me stay in the squad".
He will need every scrap of that maturity - and all the power his 6ft 3in,
232-pound frame can muster - in a match with the Pumas that is certain to be
decided in the turbulent forward battle at the Adelaide Oval.