Joe Schmidt Could Throw A Huge Curveball At England With Surprise Positional Switch
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Three can go into two.
One of the biggest decisions Joe Schmidt has to make this week ahead of the England game is who he selects in the centre to form his midfield combination.
The last few times that selection has been made for him with one or more of Garry Ringrose, Chris Farrell and Robbie Henshaw being injured or not fully fit, with the remaining man tasked with partnering Bundee Aki in midfield.
This weekend however, Schmidt has a full compliment of centres to choose from. Aki, Ringrose and Henshaw are the frontrunners – but three does not go into two. Or does it? With Rob Kearney still a bit of a doubt in terms of match fitness, could we finally see Robbie Henshaw slot in at 15 for Ireland?
He’s played there before for Connacht and Leinster, so it’s nothing new for the Athlone man. And according to RugbyPass, Henshaw slotted in at fullback during Ireland’s training camp in Portugal last week in Kearney’s absence.
Back in November, Schmidt admitted he wouldn’t hesitate one bit at starting Henshaw in the fifteen jersey.
“I think he’s great in the positions he’s played for us, both at 12 and at 13.” Schmidt said.
“I wouldn’t have too much hesitation putting him back at 15. He’s got a lot of the attributes. It would be a very ad-hoc preparation for him to slot in at 15 on the back of a fairly short, late change, playing away to Treviso for Leinster.”
“I think the last few years he hasn’t really had a lot of game time there. And I think you think a little bit of time to recalibrate.”
“Is there anyone more capable thank recalibrating? Probably not too many. He’s a smart player and he’s committed to his preparation thoroughly enough that he probably would adjust pretty well.”
“It is something that has been in the back of our minds for a long time as an option if we needed to go there.”
Schmidt also has Will Addison, Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour to slot in at fullback, so it’s probably unlikely we’ll see Henshaw in there. But stranger things have happened.