Thursday 18 July 2019

Earls and Ryan to return as Jackson gets chance to shine

Ireland's Keith Earls during squad training
Ireland's Keith Earls during squad training
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Munster pair Keith Earls and Donnacha Ryan look set to win their first caps since the defeat to Italy in March 2013 when Ireland take on Wales on Saturday as Joe Schmidt prepares to hand Paddy Jackson his chance to impress ahead of the World Cup.

Earls and Ryan have both been plagued with injury since the New Zealander took over but are in line to be given a opportunity at the Millennium Stadium.

Schmidt is ready to follow Warren Gatland's lead and name an experimental side for the first of four warm-up games, with Leinster back-row Jamie Heaslip expected to captain the team in Paul O'Connell's absence and Jack McGrath, Rory Best and Mike Ross lending experience in the front-row.

Ryan could be partnered by Iain Henderson in the second-row, while Dan Tuohy is another option. Tommy O'Donnell and Jordi Murphy are set to feature alongside Heaslip in the back-row.

Isaac Boss and Eoin Reddan are vying for the scrum-half slot to partner Jackson, who finished last season in fine fettle and will hope to lay down a marker in his battle with Ian Madigan for the right to back up Johnny Sexton next month.

Schmidt could be tempted to pick Earls in the centre when he names his team at 1.50 this afternoon, with Gordon D'Arcy and Darren Cave also vying for a midfield berth.

Fergus McFadden could get a run on the wing, while Andrew Trimble may make his return from injury and Felix Jones is favourite to wear the No 15 shirt.

Irish Independent

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