Competition for places in the outside backs is fierce and with three fellow centres in front of him in the pecking order, Farrell needed a strong showing against Italy. The Munster man delivered, not in his customary role at outside centre but on the inside in midfield, displaying the versatility that is a prerequisite for Joe Schmidt’s final 31-man squad.
Earning a place in the World Cup squad is not just about making the first XV, Ireland will need impact players off the bench and dependable deputies and Beirne more than proved his worth in those regards with a 20-minute shift at blindside flanker to augment his credentials as a second row, effecting a turnover penalty in his first minute on the pitch. That could prove crucial during a tight World Cup contest.
Opportunity knocked for the Connacht fly-half when he replaced a stricken Joey Carbery with 30 minutes to play but the review from Joe Schmidt was that: “Jack probably struggled for a bit of rhythm coming off the bench at 10”. Ross Byrne, the fourth fly-half in the training squad, will have a spring in his step after that.
With four hookers in the squad and only three of them likely to travel to Japan, something had to give and the perennial back-up man to Rory Best for province and country could not have succumbed at a worse time to a back spasm, just 19 minutes into his audition when such chances are few and far between.