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IRFU confirm Emerging Ireland trip to South Africa

The IRFU have announced that they will send an Emerging Ireland squad to South Africa in September for a three-game tournament in Bloemfontein.

It will be a repeat of the Toyota Challenge competition that Emerging Ireland played in back in 2022, when they defeated the Cheetahs, Griquas and Pumas, with Jack Crowley, Calvin Nash and Joe McCarthy among the young players who made an impression.

Once again, Ireland's defence coach Simon Easterby will assume head coaching duties for the tour, a strong indication that he's likely to now take over as Ireland head coach for the 2025 Six Nations when Andy Farrell is working with the British and Irish Lions.

Easterby will be joined on the tour by regular Ireland assistants Paul O'Connell, John Fogarty and incoming attack coach Andrew Goodman.

The tour is designed to give players on the fringes of the Ireland senior squad the opportunity to sample the national team environment, with the panel set to gather for a training camp at the IRFU High Performance Centre on 25 September, before departing for Bloemfontein three days later.

Emerging Ireland will face the Pumas in the campaign opener on Wednesday 2 October, before going head-to-head with Super Rugby outfit Western Force on Sunday 6 October.

Easterby's side will then conclude the tour against defending Currie Cup champions the Cheetahs on Wednesday 9 October, with all matches being played at Toyota Stadium.

"The 2022 Tour was of huge value, as evidenced by the cohort of players who have come through and been capped at Test level for Ireland since," Easterby said.

"It will be a short preparation window leading into three tough matches but that is part of the challenge for the whole group, building connections and getting up to speed to