Sunday 17 February 2019

Ireland primed to storm back

 

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt in a relaxed mood during the Captain’s Run at Murrayfield ahead of today’s Six Nations clash with Ireland. Photo: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt in a relaxed mood during the Captain’s Run at Murrayfield ahead of today’s Six Nations clash with Ireland. Photo: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Ireland captain Rory Best brushed off news that Seán O'Brien will join London Irish at the end of the season as he set his sights on an Irish response to last week's defeat to England.

The Leinster flanker sat out yesterday's Captain's Run training session at a stormy Murrayfield yesterday as the IRFU said his workload is being managed at the end of a busy week and he is expected to make his return to the starting line-up.

O'Brien's move to link up with former Ireland coach Declan Kidney in London could be confirmed as early as next week. Unlike Simon Zebo, who was jettisoned by Joe Schmidt as soon as his mid-World Cup cycle move to Racing 92 came to light, the centrally-contracted star will remain a part of the coach's plans until the team's tournament in Japan comes to an end.

"That's Seánie's business and it'd be wrong of me to comment on someone's personal situation," Best said at his eve-of-game press conference. "From a player's perspective, you know and you trust them to weigh up the situation and do what's best for them and their families.

"We're going to have to produce something significantly better than last week. But that's always the goal for us and we fell down last week but it doesn't mean we throw everything out and attempt to start again.

"We've built a lot of things over the last number of years and it's times like this where you have to stick to what you know."

Ireland confirmed that Devin Toner will miss the rest of the tournament after undergoing ankle surgery. The lock looks likely to sit out Leinster's Champions Cup quarter-final against Ulster in March having been ruled out for two months.

Despite being forced into making five changes from the 32-20 defeat to England, Ireland are looking for a response. Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw says he is expecting a bruising performance from the champions who are in must-win territory in the Scottish capital where winds of over 70mph are forecast as Storm Erik hits.

"Ireland will be hurting from England winning the physical battle, so that will be tough for us," he said. "We're not going to go out and try to play like England. We're going to play like Scotland."

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