Joe Schmidt calls up fresh trio as Cian Healy and Mike Ross return for England clash
To combat the latest batch of injuries, Joe Schmidt has drafted in some fresh faces as well as old heads to bolster Ireland's squad for Saturday's Six Nations clash against England at Twickenham.
With Mike McCarthy, Dave Kearney and Sean O'Brien all ruled out for the remainder of the tournament, Schmidt has enlisted Munster's Dave Foley, Craig Gilroy and Jordi Murphy as direct replacments.
There is, however, positive news in the return to the national set up of Leinster props Cian Healy and Mike Ross, both of whom, after recovering from injury, have taken part in their club's last two games; victories over Zebre and Cardiff bLues. An IRFU statement on the updated squad said the follwoing:
"Dave Foley, Jordi Murphy and Craig Gilroy come in for the injured trio of Mike McCarthy, Sean O'Brien and Dave Kearney. Cian Healy and Mike Ross return to the squad after proving their fitness"
Ross’ absence has been acutely felt in the tournament to date, with Ireland conceding tries against Wales and France due to a creaking scrum.
With Leinster colleague Marty Moore unavailable through injury, Ireland have twice started Nathan White before introducing fourth choice tight head Tadhg Furlong and the results have been mixed to say the least.
Ross, who played the final 36 minutes against Cardiff on Saturday and the first 42 against Zebre, is almost certain to make an immediate return to the starting XV in a bid to shore up the aforementioned deficiencies. Whiite should move to the becnh with Furlong making way in the match day squad.
In fact, Furlong is one of two additional injury concerns included in the union's IRFU statement, along with Ulster hooker Rob Herring. "Tadgh Furlong and Rob Herring are both suffering with thigh muscle injuries so will remain with their provinces to rehab."
Healy, too, is a timely addition, though Jack McGrath’s all round form has been stellar so the former should be utilised as an impact replacement come the hour mark.
Schmidt was apparently hesitant to use Munster’s James Cronin, so McGrath has played all but six minutes in the tournament thus far and Healy’s inclusion should mean his club teammate is rotated more. The destructive ball carrying of Healy may mitigate the loss of O'Brien to some degree.
Of the injury replacements, Ulster’s Craig Gilroy brings a level of pace that is far from in abundance in the Ireland set up.
Gilroy scored a fine try in his province’s loss to the Scarlets over the weekend, though he has featured just once in the Schmidt era, against Georgia in November 2014.
Likewise, Dave Foley, who was last capped for his country during the same Autumn internationals, making appearances in the games with Georgia and Australia.
Ireland’s lock resources are threadbare at his stage, with Mike McCarthy, Dan Tuohy and Iain Henderson all convalescing, so Foley should be contention with Ultan Dillane for a place on the bench.
Conversely, Murphy has been a mainstay under his former provincial boss, but a dip in form beginning in the World Cup warm up games saw him excluded from the original squad.
With Ulster’s Chris Henry making a tentative return from injury, Murphy is likely to have benefitted from the former’s lack of game time. On the topic of additional
Ireland squad to face England
Finlay Bealham (Corinthians/Connacht)*
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) c
Sean Cronin (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht)*
David Foley (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) vc
Jack McGrath (St Mary's College/Leinster)
Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Tommy O'Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
Rhys Ruddock (St Mary's College/Leinster)
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
CJ Stander (Munster)
Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster)
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster)*
Nathan White (Connacht)
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster)
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Patrick Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster)
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht)
Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster)
Stuart McCloskey (Ballynahinch/Ulster)*
Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Jared Payne (Ulster)
Eoin Reddan (Old Crescent/Leinster)
Jonathan Sexton (St Mary's College/Leinster)
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster)