Joe Schmidt to call on Leinster contingent for second Test
JOE SCHMIDT looks set to recall the majority of his Leinster contingent for Saturday's second Test against Argentina with Six Nations starters Rob Kearney, Jamie Heaslip and Devin Toner all ready to return to the fold.
Rhys Ruddock and Fergus McFadden are also in the frame, while Eoin Reddan is likely to be re-united with Johnny Sexton at half-back, given that Conor Murray missed training earlier in the week with a dead leg.
Luke Marshall's head injury and defensive errors last week mean his place is at risk, with the option of starting with the centre partnership that finished last week's first Test; Darren Cave and Fergus McFadden an option for the New Zealander, who will name the team this evening.
Alternatively, he may choose to play Ian Madigan at No 12 after the Leinster fly-half thrived there off the bench in the last two outings for his club.
If Madigan gets the nod at inside centre, Simon Zebo could be the victim with Andrew Trimble switching wings to accommodate McFadden's inclusion.
Ulster's Rob Herring and Munster's James Cronin could join Reid in making their debuts as replacements, with Schmidt likely to stick with the same front-row who played a crucial role in the first Test win in Resistencia, while Toner is expected to renew his partnership with Paul O'Connell.
Ruddock should get some reward for a fine season by replacing Robbie Diack, while Heaslip will come in for Jordi Murphy, whose versatility is could see him cover the back-row from the bench along with Iain Henderson.
Defence coach Les Kiss sees room for improvement for the second Test.
"I was disappointed with a couple of elements of defence," he said. "Rightfully, the players were as well. There were some good things, but more important, there were one-on- one misses, particularly in the back line, which was disappointing."
Possible Ireland team (v Argentina) – R Kearney; F McFadden, D Cave, I Madigan, A Trimble; J Sexton, E Reddan; J McGrath, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O'Connell (capt); R Ruddock, C Henry, J Heaslip.