Tuesday 21 November 2017

Schmidt set to stick with winning formula for Scots

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Rory Best will be given a chance to prove his fitness at Ireland’s training session at Carton House this morning and, if he does, Joe Schmidt is set to retain the players who delivered a nine-try victory over Italy last weekend for the Six Nations finale against Scotland.

The head coach is intent on building as many combinations as possible ahead of the three Test summer tour of South Africa as his side look to maintain their place on the World Rugby rankings table at the end of the competition.

Defeat could have major implications on Ireland’s prospects for the 2019 World Cup, with no decision yet taken on whether the draw will be made at the end of this year.

Schmidt’s side are currently ranked seventh, but with three games against South Africa, two against New Zealand and one each against and Australia to come in 2016, their ranking could take a battering, but victory over ninth-ranked Scotland would give them some breathing space in their bid to remain in the top-eight teams.

If Ireland captain Best proves his fitness, he will again link up with Jack McGrath and Mike Ross in the front-row, with Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner in engine room and CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier and Jamie Heaslip in the back-row.

Behind the scrum, Conor Murray will partner Johnny Sexton as Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne link up in midfield and Keith Earls, Andrew Trimble and Simon Zebo continue in the back three.

There may be some change on the bench as Cian Healy returns after withdrawing from the Italy game with a hamstring injury.

Irish Independent

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