Saturday 24 March 2018

Joe Schmidt makes six changes for Ireland's clash against Japan

Ireland's Simon Zebo wil start against Japan
Ireland's Simon Zebo wil start against Japan

Joe Schmidt has made six changes to the team that hammered the US Eagles in New Jersey last Saturday for the much stiffer proposition of Japan in Hamamatsu.

It means first starts on the trip for Paddy Jackson, Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway, Rory Scannell and Luke McGrath in the backs, and Dan Leavy up front.

And with Ulster second row Kieran Treadwell and Leinster’s Rory O’Loughlin on the bench it will likely bring to seven the number of new caps over the two games so far. That would leave John Cooney wondering if he will be filling the role of non-playing apprentice, or else getting a run in Tokyo.

Finlay Bealham, James Tracy and Jack O’Donoghue – none of whom were involved against the US – are also on the bench. Sean Reidy will have to wait until the second Test against Japan to see any action.

“Preparations have been brief, pretty brief,” Schmidt said. “The workrate in training today was really good because I think the players are very conscious that it is the only training we will get this week, so they wanted to make sure that they got as much clarity and got a bit of rhythm as best they could.

It wasn’t perfect, and it seldom is, but I think we will get a few lessons from it and hopefully we will be a little more cohesive by the time we kick off on Saturday.

Trying to acclimatise has been very difficult. We did have the advantage of playing in very hot temperatures in New Jersey last weekend but by the time we left the hotel on Sunday morning and by the time we arrived here it was Monday night.

“You are very jumbled from the different time zones and so that has taken a toll but it certainly won’t be considered than anything other than an imposition in the early part of the week and by the end of the week we have to make sure we are ready to go.

“I think we have some injured guys at home might otherwise have been with us. Especially they would have added a bit of guidance and experience, some of them have played here before, but I think it is a great opportunity to learn who can adapt and who can adapt the fastest because some of these players are being thrown in the deep end.  And I have to say the coaching staff are looking forward to seeing how they go. They’ve worked hard away from the pitch to make sure they get themselves as organised as possible and hopefully that is apparent on Saturday.”

Ireland:  S Zebo; A Conway, G Ringrose, R Scannell, K Earls; P Jackson, L McGrath; C Healy, N Scannell, J Ryan, Q Roux, D Toner, R Ruddock (capt), J Conan, D Leavy. Replacements: J Tracy, D Kilcoyne, F Bealham, K Treadwell, J O’Donoghue; K Marmion, R O’Loughlin, T O’ Halloran.


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