Joe Schmidt rings the changes for second Japan Test with John Cooney in line for first cap
Joe Schmidt has included the uncapped John Cooney and the unused Sean Reidy in the squad to face Japan in Tokyo on Saturday, indicating that everyone who has travelled on this tour will go home with some game-time.
In all there are six changes in personnel to the side that started in Shizuoka last weekend, and two positional. For three of those left out there are slight injury issues: Simon Zebo has fluid on his knee, while Dan Leavy (head wound) and Luke McGrath (eye) are not yet 100 per cent.
“Dan will probably be ok by Saturday but we have some fresh players and in the circumstances we wanted to utilise them,” Schmidt said. “The decision on Luke – he got an elbow in the eye - was precautionary. Simon trained this week and was sharp but still has some fluid on his knee after this morning’s sessions. He wasn’t as comfortable as we’d like him to be so we decided to give him a rest as well.”
Behind the scrum Andrew Conway shifts from wing to full back in place of Zebo and Earls moves from left to right for Jacob Stockdale to start. Luke Marshall comes back to inside centre with Rory Scannell moving to the bench; and at scrumhalf Kieran Marmion will win his 16th cap.
In the pack James Tracy is selected at hooker ahead of Niall Scannell – it will be his fourth cap and first start. Kieran Treadwell, who made a very positive impact off the bench last week, makes his first start as well, in place of Quinn Roux, and Josh van der Flier comes in for Leavy.
“A few guys who played the 80 last week have been given a rest this week – it’s about opportunity as much as anything,” Schmidt said.
By close of business on Saturday seven players will have started all three Tests: Earls, Ringrose, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Devin Toner, Rhys Ruddock and Jack Conan.
Ireland: (15-9) A Conway; K Earls, G Ringrose, L Marshall, J Stockdale; P Jackson, K Marmion; (1-8) C Healy, J Tracy, J Ryan, K Treadwell, D Toner, R Ruddock (capt), J Conan, J van der Flier.
Replacements: (16-23) N Scannell, D Kilcoyne, A Porter, J Ryan, S Reidy; J Cooney, R Scannell, T O’Halloran