Sunday 16 December 2018

Tadhg Furlong and Garry Ringrose get the nod as Joe Schmidt shows his hand for Scotland test

Tadhg Furlong, right, with team-mates during Ireland training
Tadhg Furlong, right, with team-mates during Ireland training
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Devin Toner has held on to his place in the Ireland second-row for Saturday's crunch Six Nations clash with Scotland as Iain Henderson makes do with a place on the bench.

Tadhg Furlong comes straight back into the side after recovering from his hamstring injury, while Garry Ringrose replaces the injured Chris Farrell in midfield.

Both Henderson and Furlong missed the win over Wales with hamstring problems, but Joe Schmidt may have one eye on a potential championship decider away to England in Twickenham by keeping the Ulster lock in reserve as Toner retains his position alongside James Ryan.

Schmidt will also be mindful of the difficulty Scotland caused Ireland's lineout in last year's meeting.

Otherwise, it's as you were for the starting XV with four changes on the bench where Andrew Porter, Henderson, Jordi Murphy and Jordan Larmour replace John Ryan, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan and Fergus McFadden.

Furlong is reunited with Cian Healy and Rory Best, while the back-row combination of Peter O'Mahony, Dan Leavy and CJ Stander is retained.

Despite rumours of injuries to Keith Earls and Johnny Sexton, both are retained as the out-half partners up with Conor Murray once again, while Earls joins Jacob Stockdale and Rob Kearney in the back-three.

Ringrose has not played for Ireland this season due to shoulder and ankle issues, but returns to join Bundee Aki in midfield for the first time.

Scotland made one change to their side following the win over England, with Blair Kinghorn coming in for the injured Tommy Seymour.

Ireland can win the Six Nations title if they beat the Scots and better England's result against France in Paris.

Schmidt conceded Ringrose's selection after just an hour of club rugby with Leinster since January was "needs-must" given Ireland's injury problems.

"There's always concerns about players for different reasons, and Garry's only had six games in this entire season," said Schmidt.

"That's something you calculate in but sometimes you don't have the luxury of a plethora of options.

"Garry's been extraordinary when he has played for us, he's done great.

"We're hoping he can hit the ground running and get straight back into that form.

"He's a smart player, and hopefully he can get the balance between when he has to work hard and when he can get a breather back on the pitch.

"It's a needs-must situation, but it's a situation where we've got a lot of trust and faith in Garry."

Ireland team to face Scotland: R Kearney; K Earls, G Ringrose, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best (capt), T Furlong; J Ryan, D Toner; P O’Mahony, D Leavy, CJ Stander. Reps: S Cronin, J McGrath, A Porter, I Henderson, J Murphy, K Marmion, J Carbery, J Larmour.

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