Joe Schmidt On Why CJ Stander Was Dropped For Jack Conan

Keeping things fresh.

Joe Schmidt this afternoon named his Ireland team for this weekend’s Six Nations clash with Italy at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The head coach has made four changes to his starting line-up from the side that beat France in Paris, all in the pack.

Jack McGrath replaces Cian Healy, Jack Conan takes CJ Stander’s spot at eight, Dan Leavy fills in for the injured Josh van der Flier, and finally Devin Toner come back into the starting line-up in place of James Ryan.

The uncapped Jordan Larmour is in line for his first cap as he his named in the replacements which also includes Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Quinn Roux, CJ Stander, Kieran Marmion and Joey Carbery.

In terms of the changes, Schmidt says it’s a matter of keeping players fresh for the latter rounds. He says Jack Conan coming in for Stander is a combination of “mileage” for the Munster man, and “rewarding some performances” by the Leinster star.

“Some of it is mileage.” Schmidt said following the team announcement.

“I think CJ Stander had 42 clean outs and 23 carries in the game in Paris.”

“Which, while not attritional for CJ, he’s in great shape… it’s really probably rewarding some performances by Jack Conan in recent times as well.”

“And it’s also that opportunity to try to keep a freshness.”

“These Six Nations games, they do become, if nothing else- mentally attritional.”

“By the time we got back from Paris on Sunday evening, you had some fairly sore, tired bodies. And it’s just an opportunity to freshen the side up a little bit.”

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