The Biggest Decision Joe Schmidt Has To Make Ahead Of This Weekend’s Clash With Scotland

Jason Hennessy

Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor here at RugbyLAD and a proud Limerick man.
Jason Hennessy

Rebound.

Ireland suffered their first loss at home in the Six Nations under Joe Schmidt over the weekend, losing 32-20 to a fired up England side at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The Ireland boss has admitted his side were blown away by England’s physicality on the day and said Saturday’s game was a “reality check” for a side who many thought were destined to win a second consecutive Six Nations Grand Slam.

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It’s not often Joe Schmidt is beaten tactically, and it’s not often he gets his selection wrong – but the New Zealander failed on both accounts this weekend and no doubt will be hurting. But there’s no point wondering what he could have done. It’s over now. Ireland were defeated. Time to focus on the Scotland game this weekend. The championship is far from over.

In terms of selection this weekend, Schmidt may be forced into a handful of changes, while he has to make a pretty big decision on one. CJ Stander doesn’t look like he’ll be fit following his horrific facial injury, with Sean O’Brien primed to take his place in the starting line-up.

There’s also injury concerns regarding Keith Earls and Devin Toner, with the Ireland boss no doubt particularly worried about the latter given their current injury problems in the second-row. But the big decision of course is at fullback…

Robbie Henshaw was a surprise starter at fifteen on Saturday, and was caught out by England on a number of occasions. So does Schmidt stick with his man and look at things in the long-term? Or does he bring Rob Kearney, or even Andrew Conway, Jordan Larmour or Will Addison in?

Given the potency of Scotland’s back-three, with Stuart Hogg and Blair Kinghorn putting in superb displays the weekend, coupled with Finn Russell’s kicking game and unpredictability – Schmidt needs to get this one right. Who would you go with? Let us know in the comments.