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The full-strength Ireland team that should face Scotland

Ireland face Scotland in their final Autumn Nations Cup match this Saturday and will hope to put their last two disappointing performances behind them.

The much-changed Ireland side that featured against Georgia struggled to work cohesively, especially in the second half after a number of replacements were introduced.

Ireland won’t get their hands on any silverware if they beat the Scots, bit Andy Farrell should still select the strongest team available to end 2020 on a win.

Front Row

Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Andrew Porter

Porter and Healy have played a lot of rugby for Ireland this Autumn, but are obvious selections for Farrell if he wants to put his best foot forward.

Herring was by no means spectacular against Georgia on Sunday but did well when it came to the line out, an area which Ireland desperately need to function.

Ronan Kelleher might offer more in terms of all-round playing ability but will need to work on his throws before he warrants a starting place in the big games.

Second Row

James Ryan and Iain Henderson

The Ulster captain was the best player on the park in the overall disappointing performance against Georgia, making constant strong carries and providing a much-needed target in the lineout.

Ryan has been quiet by his standards in the last two games and was perhaps struggling a little bit to adjust to his new role as Ireland captain.

However, with Johnny Sexton due to return from injury the Leinster lock should be able to focus on his game more and combine with Henderson for a commanding lock pairing.

Back Row

CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris

Van der Flier has been unlucky not to get more minutes for Ireland in their autumn campaign and deserves to show what he’s got against the Scots.

Ireland have struggled at the breakdown in recent weeks and the hard-working back row trio should aim to target the Scottish jackalers all day.

Stander and Doris were mostly out-muscled against the English but still pack plenty of power and should have more luck against the Scottish defence.

Half-backs

Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton

The Munster scrum-half was slow to get the ball away against Georgia but his box-kicking was back to its best, causing havoc in the opposition’s back field.

While Gibson-Park showed plenty of promise against Wales, he was smothered by the English defence and does not yet look acclimatised to international rugby.

Ireland have badly lacked shape in attack in recent weeks, an issue which Sexton should solve if he is fit to feature against the Scots.

Centres

Bundee Aki and Chris Farrell

Stuart McCloskey put in a solid shift against the Georgians but didn’t quite prove that he should be selected over either Aki or Farrell.

All three available centres for Ireland are big ball carriers but are each capable of nice touches of creativity, see in Farrell’s pass to Billy Burns for Ireland’s opening try against Georgia.

While McCloskey is consistently impressive for Ulster, Farrell and Aki have shown they can put in big performances against top-level opposition.

Back three

Keith Earls, Hugo Keenan and Jacob Stockdale

Farrell should stick with the same trio he played against Georgia, as each man looked dangerous when given the opportunity on Sunday.

Keenan has been consistently solid in the air for every game he has played for his country, while Earls is still showing plenty of pace and attacking ability despite his age.

Stockdale was one of Ireland’s best performers against the Georgians and has shown he is more than capable of creating chances for his teammates from 15.

Replacements

Ronan Kelleher, Eric O’Sullivan, John Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony, Jamison Gibson-Park, Billy Burns and Andrew Conway

Ulster hooker O’Sullivan deserves a chance off the bench after being called up last week and late on against Scotland could prove to be the perfect time to do it.

Elsewhere, Burns has shown more quality than Ross Byrne during the autumn while Conway should prove to be dangerous if introduced late on.

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