Tuesday 21 May 2019

Kearney back to No 15 as Schmidt makes four changes

 

Ireland's Rob Kearney. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Ireland's Rob Kearney. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Joe Schmidt looks set to make four changes to his side to face Scotland after last week's opening-weekend defeat to England.

The coach is without the injured Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Devin Toner for the clash after a bruising 32-20 loss last Saturday.

After starting Robbie Henshaw at full-back last weekend, Schmidt is poised to bring Rob Kearney back to the No 15 shirt and move the Leinster man into midfield alongside Bundee Aki to replace Ringrose.

As expected, Quinn Roux is set to replace Toner and take over the lineout-calling duties as he partners James Ryan in the second-row, with Leinster's Jack Conan a direct replacement for Stander at No 8.

The one non-injury-related switch Schmidt is strongly considering is bringing the vocal presence of Seán O'Brien into the back-row, with Josh van der Flier set to drop to the bench after an industrious effort.

Ireland didn't make much of an impact on England's ball and Schmidt will be hoping the Lion will bring a turnover threat to the occasion.

Response The team will be named by Schmidt at lunchtime and it is otherwise expected to see the side that underperformed against England retained. And Schmidt will be looking for a response from the champions who are in must-win territory as regards retaining their title.

"We can't (afford another loss), so there's that bit of urgency about us, which I don't think is any harm," Ryan said. "It's good having a bit of an edge about you in the week leading into a game, that bit of fear, I think it drives you on.

"You can't get too hung up on England. As I said, the focus since we came in is on taking the learnings.

"I think we've held each other to account but we've got to park it pretty quick because Scotland are a serious side and they've got some serious threats. It's a whole different challenge this week."

Ireland (Possible team v Scotland) - R Kearney; K Earls, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best (capt), T Furlong; Q Roux, J Ryan; P O'Mahony, S O'Brien, J Conan.

Irish Independent

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