Wednesday 17 January 2018

Schmidt vows to take attack to Scotland

Coach aims to be positive but conditions may dictate

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt has promised fans that Ireland will show a sense of adventure in this Six Nations but only if the weather plays ball.

The forecast for tomorrow's Championship opener against Scotland in Murrayfield is for wind and rain and Schmidt has picked a powerful pack to try and dominate the forward exchanges.

He yesterday revealed that Donnacha Ryan and Finlay Bealham carried knee injuries into the tournament and Iain Henderson and John Ryan are the chief beneficiaries, with the Ulster second-row starting and the Munster tighthead taking a place among the replacements alongside Niall Scannell who is set for his debut off the bench.

Scotland have named a strong side themselves, with Josh Strauss getting the nod ahead of John Barclay in the back-row and Huw Jones fit enough to start in the centre.

Ireland's game in Edinburgh is the first Six Nations game that will see bonus points on offer and Schmidt vowed to start his side's bid for the title with intent, as long as the conditions allow it.

"We really want to be adventurous. Most teams do," he said.

"But you've got to cut your cloth based on what you face on the day. I don't think anyone, one coach of the six coaches this weekend, will be talking to their team about bonus points."

Schmidt, meanwhile, is confident that Jonathan Sexton may be available for the away game with Italy tomorrow week - and has reiterated that he remains keen to support home-grown players in terms of back-up.

"Jonathan Sexton has an outside chance for Italy," said Schmidt. "It's about getting him to 100%.

"With regards to Ian Keatley, his time at out-half is not dis-similar to Ian Madigan. Ian Madigan wasn't with us last week and he had his own injury problems.

"We are incredibly keen to support the provinces."

Irish Independent

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