Tuesday 15 October 2019

Joe Schmidt unsure how to fit in Ireland trio

Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki will start in the midfield against Argentina, with Garry Ringrose injured.

Robbie Henshaw, right, will not be favoured for a move to full-back by Ireland boss Joe Schmidt (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)
Robbie Henshaw, right, will not be favoured for a move to full-back by Ireland boss Joe Schmidt (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

By Nick Purewal, Press Association Sport

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has admitted he will have some selection headaches once Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose are all fit.

Ringrose will miss Saturday’s Dublin Test clash with Argentina due to a minor hip complaint, but should be fit in time to take on New Zealand on November 17.

Aki and Henshaw will link up in midfield against the Pumas, with Jordan Larmour retaining his place at full-back as Rob Kearney battles a shoulder injury.

Bundee Aki will start at centre for Ireland (Paul Harding/PA)

British and Irish Lions centre Henshaw has this week been tipped for, and admitted he would enjoy, a run at his first senior position of full-back.

But Ireland boss Schmidt does not feel shoehorning Henshaw in at 15 would solve the potential conundrum of fielding all his top talent at once.

Schmidt said: “He’s had very little time there.

“I know he played a lot of it and was described as favouring it in the week, but he favours contributing to the team to the best of his ability wherever he’s selected.

“Robbie’s the sort of guy you could pick at seven and he’d go out and do a good job of it.

Robbie Henshaw has been linked with a move to full-back (Brian Lawless/PA)

“I think he’s great in the positions he’s played for us, both at 12 and 13.

“I wouldn’t have too much hesitation putting him back to 15. He’s got a lot of the attributes. It would be a very ad hoc preparation for him to slot back into 15, as in the last few years he hasn’t had too much game-time there.

“So I think you just need a little bit of time to recalibrate if you are going to play in a position. Now, is there anyone more capable of recalibrating? Probably not too many.

“So it is something that has been in the back of our minds for a long time as an option if we needed to go there.

“The one thing I would say, it’s probably not our first option, and it’s probably not something we’re going to necessarily suddenly default too.

“With both Garry and Rob Kearney highly likely to be available for selection next week, we’ll slot Robbie in. And what I love about Robbie is, he’ll slot himself in, wherever we’re looking to get him to contribute.”

And quizzed on how he can best combine his three top midfield talents, Schmidt replied: “When they are all fit I’ll let you know. I’m not sure myself at this stage.”

Ireland have rolled out all available big guns for Argentina’s visit, restoring their frontline XV after a second-string outfit thrashed Italy 54-7 in Chicago last weekend.

Sean O’Brien will make his first Test start in almost a year, having finally shaken off shoulder and hip injuries. Rory Best returns as skipper, with vice-captains Peter O’Mahony on the flank and Johnny Sexton at fly-half.

Kearney’s injury absence allows Leinster’s Larmour to build on his hat-trick against Italy, while Ringrose’s hip niggle eased Schmidt’s midfield selection dilemma.

J Larmour (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), R Henshaw (Leinster), B Aki (Connacht), J Stockdale (Ulster), J Sexton (Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster, capt), T Furlong (Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster), James Ryan (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), S O’Brien (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster). Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, A Porter, D Toner, D Leavy, L McGrath (all Leinster), J Carbery, A Conway (both Munster).

PA Media

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