As expected, Joe Schmidt has not made any surprise inclusions in Ireland’s starting XV for Saturday’s tie against Scotland.
Although some commentators and fans have been arguing for the inclusion of either Simon Zebo or Tiernan O’Halloran at fullback, Andrew Trimble’s groin injury didn’t give much space for Schmidt for manoeuvre.
Had the Ulster winger been available, Schmidt may have been tempted to make a switch at fullback, but given the defensive solidity and continuity Trimble brings to Ireland’s backfield, it became for more important to maintain Kearney in the starting XV.
Elsewhere, Rory Best in partnered by Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong in the front row, while Devin Toner and Iain Henderson make up the second-row combination. CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip maintain their positions at the back of the scrum.
Conor Murray and Paddy Jackson slot in at half-back, with Robbie Henshaw and Gary Ringrose selected in midfield.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 2, 2017
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena