Schmidt names Ireland team: Iain Henderson gets nod as Scannell set for debut off bench
IAIN HENDERSON will partner Devin Toner in the Ireland second-row against Scotland on Saturday having edged out Donnacha Ryan for a starting slot.
The Ulster second-row was picked to play against Australia in the final November international and keeps his place despite the form of the Munster lock who started the two Tests against New Zealand in the autumn.
Ryan misses out on the match-day 23 altogether as Connacht’s Ultan Dillane is selected as replacement second-row despite having not played since December 23.
Otherwise, Joe Schmidt’s starting XV is as expected for the Six Nations opener at Murrayfield with Keith Earls joining Rob Kearney and Simon Zebo in the back-three with Andrew Trimble out, while Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose line up in the centre.
Paddy Jackson retains his No 10 shirt in the absence of Johnny Sexton with Conor Murray at scrum-half, while Ian Keatley covers the out-half position from the bench with Kieran Marmion and Tommy Bowe also among the replacements.
Up front, Jack McGrath, captain Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong start in the front-row with John Ryan set to win his second cap off the bench and his Munster team-mate Niall Scannell ready for his debut as replacement hooker.
With Henderson and Toner in the engine room, Sean O’Brien gets the nod to join CJ Stander and Jamie Heaslip in the back-row ahead of Josh van der Flier who is on the bench.
Scotland earlier named a strong side to face Schmidt’s side with South African-born No 8 Josh Strauss and Jonny Gray, who both fell foul of Conor Murray in the recent Glasgow defeat to Munster, named in the pack.
Greig Laidlaw who backed his forward colleagues and played down Ireland’s win over the All Blacks this week is named as captain.
SCOTLAND - Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Allan Dell, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson; Richie Gray, Jonny Gray; Ryan Wilson, Hamish Watson, Josh Strauss. Replacements: Ross Ford, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Tim Swinson, John Barclay, Ali Price, Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett.
IRELAND - Rob Kearney; Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo; Paddy Jackson, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, Devin Toner; CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Niall Scannell, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Ultan Dillane, Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Ian Keatley, Tommy Bowe.
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