'He's a good team man' - Ireland coach Feek defends call-up of undercooked McFadden as Earls emerges as injury doubt
Keith Earls (groin) has emerged as a major doubt for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations clash with England at the Aviva Stadium as Ireland defended their decision to draft in Fergus McFadden.
The Leinster man’s call-up has been widely questioned, particularly as he has played little rugby this season compared to in-form colleagues Rory O’Loughlin, Adam Byrne, as well as Connacht duo Tiernan O’Halloran and Niyi Adeolokun.
Munster wing Earls missed training this morning - along with Tommy O’Donnell (quad) - but is expected to be train on Thursday.
Jared Payne is on stand-by after completing 55 minutes for Ulster last week as Joe Schmidt also ponders whether to restore him to the midfield.
“Fergus brings a different element, not just on the pitch in training, he has a great personality. He is a good team man, he mixes with the guys well. He has experience so he can slot in without any stress, he can mentor some people.
“He brings abrasiveness at training, puts heat on the starting line-up. You can rely him for one week to do multiple jobs all at once. And if something arose and he had to come in for us, he would do so 100%.”
Meanwhile, Ireland will not change their approach as they aim to prevent England creating a new world record of successive wins.
“We’re disappointed, the players emptied the tank massively and some of their errors were compounded by taking the wrong option and good Welsh defence,” said scrum coach Greg Feek.
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“We’re aware of that and trying not to do that. They can learn from that and we have to back them. We’re not suddenly going to change our philosophy based on whether we win or lose.
“We respect England hugely and there are only so many patterns you can play off set-piece but they look like they are enjoying doing it. We need to get our basics right.
“Rugby is about pressure, creating it and not putting it on yourselves. We can be proud of what we have achieved so far with our work ethic and endeavour.
“We have a plan and they will have a plan. If you can upset their launch phases and put pressure on their defence, hold on to the ball and create options. We have to keep alive and take those opportunities.
“You have to make the most of your opportunities when you get the field position that you want.”