The Ireland team which Joe Schmidt named to face Italy contains four changes to the starting XV which lined out against Scotland at Murrayfield last time out.
There are also a number of new faces on the bench as Schmidt’s selection was a result of injuries to a number of key players and also the intention to provide an opportunity to the fringe players of the squad.
Robbie Henshaw, Joey Carbery, Jack Conan and Jordan Larmour were all ruled out this weekend’s clash through injury, something which Schmidt revealed the details of at today’s team announcement in Carton House.
With regards to Henshaw, Schmidt believes that at a push, the Leinster back could have played but that it wasn’t worth risking the dead leg injury which has seen him sidelined thus far.
“There are a couple of guys who are probably available for selection, the likes of Robbie Henshaw, but we just decided to give him an extra week,” Schmidt said.
“He didn’t have the opportunity to do quite the volume of running that would have best prepared him for the match, particularly if he was going to play at 15 or 13, where a high volume of running is expected and with the way the Italians play.”
Two fresh injury concerns for Ireland is that of Carbery and Conan, as Schmidt reveals the Munster out-half picked up a hamstring strain during the week while the Leinster back row has “abdominal tightness”.
“Joey Carbery has a bit of a hamstring strain and wouldn’t really have been available or would have been too great a risk. Jack Conan just had a bit of abdominal tightness and again, we could have pushed him through but it’s a great opportunity for Jordi Murphy. There are a few other guys who are rotated out and opportunity is being offered.”
Finally, Larmour’s exclusion from the squad is a bizarre one as it seems the 21-year-old caught his finger in some fabric.
“He will definitely be fit next time, next week.
“He just hurt his finger, it just got caught in the fabric so we just decided that we would leave him until the next match. He is certainly very fit. The training metres that he covers are exceptional.”