Here’s The Ireland Team We Want To See Start Against Russia On Thursday

All eyes on Russia.

Ireland’s shock defeat to Japan on Saturday means they are no longer in control of their faith in terms of topping Pool A – but two bonus-point wins against Russia and Samoa will guarantee them a quarter-final and that’s all that matters right now.

No doubt the men in green will still be reeling from the disappointing 19-12 loss, but they simply do not have time to dwell on it. They will review the game, learn from their mistakes and start looking ahead to Russia on Thursday, simple as that.

Selection for that game is now more important than ever. Joe Schmidt has already revealed Johnny Sexton will likely feature, but it was also clearly evident on Saturday that Joey Carbery needs game time to get him up to speed. The solution? Start them both.

Carbery has proved time and time again he’s an excellent option at fullback so why not slot him in there and let Sexton run the show at ten? Both players will then get the game time they need.

Elsewhere if Robbie Henshaw is fit we expect him to come straight back in, with Bundee Aki primed to partner him. On the wings, Andrew Conway deserves to come back in we’ve gone with Earls on the other wing to keep him motoring. Larmour could also slot in here, but we think give Earls the minutes.

Conor Murray is also due a rest so expect McGrath to start, along with a completely fresh front-five. In the back-row, Josh van der Flier should stay on, with Jordi Murphy primed to come straight into the starting line-up, and Rhys Ruddock in line to make his first start.

Our Ireland team vs Russia

15. Joey Carbery
14. Keith Earls
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Andrew Conway
10. Johnny Sexton (c)
9. Luke McGrath

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. Jean Kleyn
6. Rhys Ruddock
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jordi Murphy

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Jack Carty, Jordan Larmour