The Verdict On Ireland’s Team Selection For The Game With Scotland
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Grand Slam in sight.
Joe Schmidt today named his Ireland team for their crucial Six Nations round four clash against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin this weekend.
The Ireland boss has made two changes to his starting line-up, after securing a huge bonus-point win over Wales a fortnight ago. Ireland are five points clear at the top of the table, and could potentially seal the Six Nations with a round to spare this weekend.
But Scotland showed against England just how good they can be. Gregor Townsend’s men handed Eddie Jones just his second defeat since taking charge of England, and they did it while play a stunning brand of rugby.
Man-of-the-match against Wales, Chris Farrell, will be missed this weekend, as will Robbie Henshaw. But those injuries could very well be a blessing in disguise, with Ringrose and Aki set to team up for the very first time.
Aki is fantastic at getting front-foot ball for his outside man. He can make half-breaks almost at will, and has an excellent offload and passing game. Having someone like Ringrose outside/inside him, with his pace and footwork, could be devastating. But it will come down massively to just how fit, and how much rust Ringrose will have after being out for so long.
Schmidt has also decided to bench Iain Henderson for the game, despite the Ulster lock being full fit and ready to go. Devin Toner continues in the starting line-up, with the Ireland head coach hoping Henderson can explode off the bench.
This is a good decision by Schmidt I feel. Scotland will come out all guns blazing against Ireland. They’re away from home, they’ve almost no choice. When bodies are tired, Henderson comes on as not just an excellent option in the tight-five, but as an extra back-row too. Expect some big carries from the the Lions second-row when he gets on, that could be crucial.
Elsewhere the other big calls are bringing in Jordan Larmour and Jordi Murphy for Fergus McFadden and Jack Conan respectively. Once again, it’s hard to argue with Schmidt’s decisioning here. McFadden was poor against Wales, while Larmour offers a spark that could be lit against Scotland given their style of play. We’re expecting an open game, ideal for Larmour if he’s given his chance.
In terms of Conan, yes he made a defensive error against Wales, but Murphy is there based on what Scotland can do to you at the breakdown. Murphy can offer a lot more here, and while he can’t carry quite as well as Conan, Ireland have plenty of ball-carriers in their squad.
The verdict – Good selection, that is more than capable of beating Scotland. If this team plays to their ability, there will be only one winner.
Ireland team v Scotland:
15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray
1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Dan Leavy
8. CJ Stander
16. Sean Cronin
17. Jack McGrath
18. Andrew Porter
19. Iain Henderson
20. Jordi Murphy
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Joey Carbery
23. Jordan Larmour