5 Talking Points As Ireland Team Named For Italy Game

Plenty to talk about.

Head coach Joe Schmidt this afternoon named his Ireland team for this weekend’s Six Nations clash with Italy at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.  The boss has made four changes in total from the side that defeated France last week.

All of them have come in the pack, with McGrath coming in for Healy at loosehead, Toner coming in for James Ryan and Leavy and Conan coming into the back-row in place of van der Flier and Stander respectively.

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Leinster prodigy Jordan Larmour has been named on the bench, and looks set to make his Ireland debut.

Here are five talking points.

Larmour is in.
The kid is set to make his debut against Italy off the bench at some stage, with huge expectations on his shoulders. Schmidt has not ruled out playing him on the wing or at fullback, so it will be interesting to see where he plays. Hopefully he gets enough time to try and make his mark. Exciting times regardless.

Stander rested, Conan in.
The minutes machine has been given a much needed rest this weekend, and will start from the bench. A good decision by Schmidt, that also allows us to see more of Jack Conan in an Irish jersey. Big opportunity for the Leinster youngster.

Sexton starts.
Interesting move here from Schmidt, although we reckon Johnny had plenty to say on it. After his incredible winner last week in the 82nd minute, we thought he may have been rested for this game. But clearly he and Schmidt feel he’s ready, and with a two-week break to come, it’s not all that bad. Carbery should also come on for a good chunk of the game.

Marmion over McGrath.
Surprise decision here from the head coach. Luke McGrath has been in terrific form this season, and seemed to have won Schmidt over in recent games. Marmion is a good player, but personally I’d still like to see McGrath in the squad.

Schmidt isn’t underestimating the Italians.
In years gone by you might have seen Schmidt make a lot more changes for this fixture. Especially at home. But it’s a testament to what Conor O’Shea has done with Italy. Sure Ireland will probably still win this weekend, and win well. But they’ll need a full strength team on their toes in order to do so. Just like England needed last week.