With Ireland now fully established as favourites to claim their first Six Nations championship in three years, the pressure will ramp up on Joe Schmidt’s side to secure a victory over a resurgent Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin this coming weekend.
Many people have an eye on March 17th with Ireland’s clash with England at Twickenham but as we’ve seen in the past, if Scotland are underestimated, they tend to produce a shock.
With Chris Farrell the latest player to succumb to injury after playing in the 13 shirt for Ireland, it provides an excellent opportunity for Garry Ringrose to come back into the fold and partner Bundee Aki in midfield.
Ringrose got 54 minutes against the Southern Kings last weekend and unfortunately, he didn’t get the opportunity to put more minutes under his belt as Leinster’s fixture with Scarlets this weekend was postponed due to the weather conditions engulfing the UK and Ireland.
Hamstring injuries can be very difficult to get right and there is a high probability of a setback if a player is rushed back too soon, that’s why we think Tadhg Furlong should be given further time to get back to 100% fitness so that he is ready for England in two week’s time. Andrew Porter proved to be an able deputy while John Ryan also won a huge scrum penalty when he came on in the second half against Wales.
Likewise with Iain Henderson – James Ryan and Devin Toner were effective against Wales and his place on the bench adds an extra level of versatility as he can cover the second-row and back-row. This means that Quinn Roux drops out of the squad.
Finally, we’ve gone with Andrew Conway as the 23rd man at the expense of Fergus McFadden. If Conway recovers from the knee injury which ruled him out of Munster’s recent win over the Glasgow Warriors then we have him ahead of McFadden as he provides much more of an attacking spark.
With that in mind, we produce our matchday 23 which we would like to see Ireland put out against Gregor Townsend’s side in seven days time.
15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Jonathan Sexton
9. Conor Murray
1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (c)
3. Andrew Porter
4. James Ryan
5. Devin Toner
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Dan Leavy
8. CJ Stander
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, John Ryan, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion, Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway*.
* Assuming Conway recovers from knee injury which ruled him out of Munster’s recent clash with Glasgow Warriors.