Thursday 19 September 2019

Returns for Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton on the cards as Schmidt set to recall big guns


Conor Murray. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Conor Murray. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton are set to start together for the first time this season as Joe Schmidt recalls his heavy hitters for Saturday's final World Cup warm-up game against Wales.

Sexton will return from thumb and leg injuries as Ireland's first-choice half-back pair look to get some valuable game-time together before the squad depart for Japan next week.

Schmidt is not expected to take any unnecessary risks with Joey Carbery, who is still working his way back to full fitness from the ankle injury he picked up in the win over Italy last month. The Munster out-half is, however, expected to be fit for the World Cup opener against Scotland on September 22.

There could also be welcome returns for Keith Earls and Robbie Henshaw as both backs are also set for their first hit-outs of pre-season.

After impressing off the bench in last week's win over a weakened Wales side, Rory Best is in line to skipper the team from the start.

Cian Healy (ankle) could be given an extra week to recover, which may pave the way for Dave Kilcoyne to build on his outstanding display against Wales, alongside Best and Tadhg Furlong in the front-row.

After controversially omitting Devin Toner from his World Cup squad earlier this week, Schmidt is likely to use a new-look second-row in James Ryan and Jean Kleyn.

After being given last week off, CJ Stander and Josh van der Flier are set to bolster the back-row with Jack Conan and Rhys Ruddock also pushing for inclusion.

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Outside Murray and Sexton, Henshaw could link up with Bundee Aki in midfield, although Chris Farrell remains an option.

Jacob Stockdale will be hoping to build on his two tries last week as he makes up a familiar back-three with Earls and Rob Kearney.

The Ireland team to play Wales will be officially named at 1.45 today.

Possible Ireland team to play Wales - R Kearney; K Earls, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, R Best (capt), T Furlong; J Kleyn, J Ryan; CJ Stander, J van der Flier, J Conan.

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