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Tony Ward: Rob Kearney must play despite lack of game-time


Simon Zebo

Simon Zebo


Simon Zebo

Following a most productive autumn campaign the contentious positions are at full back, a second-row partner for Devin Toner and (as ever) balance in the back row.

Full-back is the biggest issue, given Rob Kearney's serious lack of game-time and while he was guilty of a couple of missed tackles in Chicago, what the Leinster man brought to the Irish cause that day was massive.

When it comes to diffusing bombs or chasing and winning possession from restarts and kicks ahead, there is still no-one better. If Kearney is picked then Simon Zebo will be on the wing. Either way the Munster man has to be in the starting XV.

The call between Iain Henderson and Donnacha Ryan is massive. On the assumption Henderson wins, Ryan will then have a job getting the nod ahead of Ultan Dillane (if fit) for impact off the bench.

So too Jack Conan and Peter O'Mahony over Josh van der Flier.

Ireland: R Kearney (L); A Trimble (U), G Ringrose (L), R Henshaw (L), S Zebo (M); J Sexton (L), C Murray (M); J McGrath (L), R Best, Captain, (U), T Furlong (L); I Henderson (U), D Toner (L); CJ Stander (M), S O'Brien (L), J Heaslip (L).

Replacements: C Healy (L), J Tracy (L), F Bealham (C), U Dillane (C)/ D Ryan (M), J van der Flier(L), K Marmion (C), P Jackson (U), K Earls (M).

Irish Independent

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