Wednesday 16 October 2019

Farrell upbeat but Schmidt readying back-line reshuffle as Earls and Kearney set to sit out opener

Ireland's full back Rob Kearney takes part in a training session at the Ichihara Suporeka Park in Ichihara on September 18, 2019, ahead of the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's full back Rob Kearney takes part in a training session at the Ichihara Suporeka Park in Ichihara on September 18, 2019, ahead of the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Cian Tracey in Yokohama

Andy Farrell has said that every Irish player except Robbie Henshaw is available for selection for Ireland's World Cup opener against Scotland on Sunday.

However, Independent.ie understands that Ireland are set to be without both Keith Earls and Rob Kearney as well as Henshaw (hamstring).

"Rob (Kearney) and Keith Earls have run well today, trained well," Ireland's defence coach said.

"They are available. There are a few protocols that they need to go to, we need to make sure we adhere as far as the protocols with the medical staff, but they are very happy.

"Obviously we have another session to go on Friday. We are building nicely."

As first reported by Independent.ie on Monday, Kearney suffered a calf injury in training and is struggling to make it back for the Scotland clash.

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18 September 2019; Keith Earls with team physio Keith Fox during Ireland Rugby squad training at the Ichihara Suporeku Park in Ichihara, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The 33-year old is expected to miss out along with Earls, who hasn't yet fully shaken off a knee problem.

If that does prove to be the case, Joe Schmidt will have to shuffle his back-three with Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour in line to come into the starting team.

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With wet and windy weather expected in Yokohama this weekend, given Conway's aerial prowess, the Munster man may get the nod at full-back with Larmour on the wing.

Otherwise, Schmidt is expected to have a full deck to chose from – although, as Farrell mentioned, the squad do have to come through another session unscathed on Friday.

The Ireland team to play Scotland will officially be confirmed at 7am (Irish time) on Friday morning. 

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