Picking An Ireland XV To Take On Italy

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Time to right some wrongs.

Ireland’s Six Nations opener ended in bitter disappointment this past weekend as they were put to the sword by an excellent Scottish side. Joe Schmidt’s men have failed at the first hurdle in their attempt to win a Grand Slam, but all is not lost.

Ireland still have France and England at home, with the Six Nations still very much up for grabs. Every point may count however, which makes this weekend’s game with Italy a crucial one, as they bid stay within reach of the pack.

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A bonus-point win is a must, while Ireland must also rack up as a big a scoreline as they possibly can. It looks like Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony won’t make it back in time, but there’s still plenty of talent in the squad to shuffle things around for the trip to Rome.

Here’s the side we reckon should start against the Azzuri.

1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best (c)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Donnacha Ryan (if fit)
5. Devin Toner
6. CJ Stander
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip
9. Conor Murray
10. Paddy Jackson
11. Keith Earls
12. Robbie Henshaw
13. Gary Ringrose
14. Andrew Trimble (if fit)
15. Simon Zebo

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What do you think? We reckon Zebo would offer a better attacking threat from fullback, and while Ringrose looked out of sorts against Scotland, he needs more games to build some confidence. There’s no doubt he has the ability, but perhaps has been forced into the fold too early in Payne’s absence.

In the back-row we’ve left it as it, but should O’Mahony recover, perhaps Schmidt will look at resting Heaslip and slotting Stander in at eight? Ireland at the very least will be hoping Donnacha Ryan is fit as the lineout needs him or O’Mahony in there to sure things up.

The bench is a tricky one. We’d like to possibly see Sexton in there, if he’s anyway fit, to get some much needed minutes under his belt. We’d also like to see Rory Scannell given a chance and named among the replacements. What do you think?