Sunday 21 July 2019

12 changes for Joe Schmidt as Cian Healy returns for Romania clash, but Robbie Henshaw remains absent

Ireland's Robbie Henshaw, left, and Cian Healy at a squad training session
Ireland's Robbie Henshaw, left, and Cian Healy at a squad training session

Cian Tracey in St. George's Park

Cian Healy is one of 12 changes to Ireland’s team to play Romania at Wembley on Sunday.

As expected, Joe Schmidt has given the majority of his front liners a rest with Jared Payne, Keith Earls and Jamie Heaslip the only ones to retain their place from last week’s win over Canada.

Having made his return from injury from the bench last week, Healy starts his first international game since the Six Nations clinching victory over Scotland last March.

He makes up the front-row alongside Nathan White and Richardt Strauss while Devin Toner and Donnacha Ryan get a chance to impress in the second-row. Jordi Murphy and Chris Henry also come into the side.

Read more: Keen student Healy seeking extra edge in bid to reclaim No 1 shirt

Tommy Bowe will be desperate to put his Twickenham nightmare behind him as he looks to make up lost ground on his rivals for the right wing berth.

There is a new look midfield with Darren Cave partnering Jared Payne with Simon Zebo deputising for Rob Kearney who is amongst the replacements.

Ian Madigan gets the nod ahead of Paddy Jackson and he links up with Eoin Reddan. Heaslip captains the side from number eight.

Robbie Henshaw again misses out, although the Irish management confirmed yesterday that all 31 players were fit and available for selection.

Henshaw’s absence means that he is the only player not to be included in either of the first two match day squads. Should Tadhg Furlong and Jackson come off the bench, Ireland will have used 30 of their 31-man squad.

Read more: Devin Toner stock running low at worst possible time

Ireland will be fully expected to ease past Romania in much the same vein as against Canada, hence the raft of changes from Schmidt.

The pivotal clashes in Pool D remain further ahead, with Italy and France the two main challengers for the top spot in the group and a likely quarter-final against Argentina.

Ireland (to play Romania) – S Zebo; T Bowe, J Payne, D Cave, K Earls; I Madigan, E Reddan; C Healy, R Strauss, N White; D Ryan, D Toner; J Murphy, C Henry, J Heaslip (capt). Reps – S Cronin, J McGrath, T Furlong, P O’Connell, S O’Brien, C Murray, P Jackson, R Kearney.

Read more: George Hook: Shades of O'Gara critics as England go on the defensive with No 10 pick

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