Today at lunchtime, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will name his team to face Wales in the Six Nations opener on Sunday. The Kiwi coach is faced with some tough decisions, and this was not made any easier by Warren Gatland’s team announcement on Wednesday, where he named both Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric in the back row.
Schmidt will have to counteract that, and a slight injury to Seán O’Brien does not help matters.
Rob Kearney’s form has been the subject of much debate, and the Leinster fullback looks set to be dropped, while Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne resume their partnership in the centre.
CJ Stander will make his debut, with Nathan White coming in at tighthead prop.
Leaked Ireland XV to face Wales: S Zebo, A Trimble, J Payne, R Henshaw, K Earls, J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best (capt), N White; D Toner, M McCarthy; CJ Stander, T O’Donnell, J Heaslip.
Replacements: J Cronin, R Strauss, T Furlong, D Ryan, R Ruddock, E Reddan, I Madigan, D Kearney.
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