The Big Talking Points As Ireland Team Named For World Cup Test With Russia

Statement needed.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has made 11 changes to his side for Thursday’s World Cup clash against Russia. The game comes just five days after their shock defeat at the hands of tournament hosts Japan.

Johnny Sexton comes straight back into the starting line-up as captain, while Jordi Murphy also starts just days after arriving in Japan as a replacement for the injured Jack Conan.

Here are five talking points.

Johnny Sexton is back.
The Ireland outhalf was missed against Japan as the men in green fell to a shock defeat. Whatever happens from here, keeping Sexton fit and firing is a must. At the same time, Joey Carbery also needs minutes, but we’ll get to that in a second.

Carbery covering nine.
Luke McGrath will start at scrumhalf against Russia with no recognised scrumhalf on the bench. Schmidt will probably be hoping McGrath can go the full 80 minutes, with Joey Carbery set to provide emergency cover. Ideally, you’d like to get Carbery on elsewhere – whether that be fullback, outhalf or even in the centre. He needs minutes – but not at scrumhalf.

Conway gets another chance.
The Munster utility back had a blinder against Scotland and was unlucky to miss out on selection for the Japan game. Rob Kearney and Jacob Stockdale meanwhile were poor against the hosts. Conway must now be thinking if he can play well on Thursday he could force his way into Schmidt’s plans for the Samoa game and a potential quarter-final.

No time to adjust for Jordi Murphy.
Just days after flying in as an injury replacement for Jack Conan, Jordi Murphy starts at eight. It’s a massive opportunity for him and if he outshines Rhys Ruddock – he could find himself on the bench against Samoa or even in a potential quarter-final. It just shows you always need to be ready. Things can change so fast.

No Robbie Henshaw.
Three games in and still no Robbie Henshaw. Garry Ringrose instead holds onto the number 13 jersey with Bundee Aki fit again to take his place at 12. Chris Farrell wasn’t considered after failing his HIA. No doubt Schmidt and the whole of Ireland will be hoping Henshaw can get himself fit and play a role in Japan yet.


Ireland team to play Russia:

15. Rob Kearney
14. Andrew Conway
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Bundee Aki
11. Keith Earls
10. Jonathan Sexton (c)
9. Luke McGrath

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. Jean Kleyn
6. Rhys Ruddock
7. Peter O’Mahony
8. Jordi Murphy

Replacements:
16. Sean Cronin
17. Andrew Porter
18. Tadhg Furlong
19. Iain Henderson
20. CJ Stander
21. Joey Carbery
22. Jack Carty
23. Jordan Larmour