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12th Jun 2018

Why Garry Ringrose should come back into partner Robbie Henshaw for the second Test

Jack O'Toole

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is expected to make several changes for this Saturday’s second Test with Australia in Melbourne.

The Wallabies claimed the first Test of a three-match series in Brisbane last weekend with a 18-9 win at Suncorp Stadium and the win for Michael Cheika’s side snapped a 12-game winning streak for Ireland.

Schmidt is expected to recall a host of frontline players including Johnny Sexton, Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Dan Leavy and Garry Ringrose to the starting side for the second Test as Ireland look to keep the series alive.

Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw has played six of his last eight games for Leinster at inside centre and he was caught a couple of times by the Wallabies in Brisbane while defending at outside centre, most notably, a failed gamble to take out Bernard Foley in the build up to his first-half try.

Former Munster centre James Downey said that he believes the inclusion of Ringrose for the second Test will allow Ireland to stretch the Wallabies defence and that Aki and Henshaw are too similar to co-exist in the midfield in international rugby.

“When you have centres like that, not so much bludgeoning, but they’re physical centres and they matched up against the Aussie guys but we need someone as a get out,” said Downey on the latest episode of The Hard Yards.

“If Joey [Carbery] had Garry Ringrose he knows he can put him on the outside and Garry can have that opportunity to have an outside break and stretch the Aussies.

Listen to the full conversation from the 9:20 mark below

“I think we had them in positions where we should have put them away and exploited some frailties out wide but I just think they’re too similar.

“I know it’s worked at Connacht for them, and it was great at the start when Bundee was starting that he had his partner from Connacht when they played together there, it was a bit of a seamless integration for him, but I’d prefer someone with a bit more kick.

“I think Robbie now has been moulded into more of a 12 so I’d like to see Robbie push back in [to inside centre] and get that Leinster trio.”

Former Ireland flanker Kevin McLaughlin said that the potential addition of Ringrose should sure up Ireland defensively and to him the Leinster centre is the best defensive 13 in the current Ireland squad.

“Australia were targeting Ireland in the wide channels,” said McLaughlin.

“I think they would have looked at a couple of the games in the Six Nations and said Ireland are frail there.

“Wales exposed us there a few times and when you have guys like Beale and Foley that can zip passes they can get there.

“They’ve got guys like [Israel] Folau and [Marika] Koroibete there, really dangerous guys. I think we missed Ringrose. I think he is the best defending 13 in the Irish squad right now and I think he’ll make a difference there.”

Following his side’s loss, Schmidt stressed that he would not veer from his plan to give some non-regulars game time against a tough, physical Australian side. He commented:

“I don’t think we can afford to change some of the plans we got… We can’t be caught with guys who don’t have that experience and they haven’t been in that white-hot atmosphere of playing big teams and being in that whole furnace of being pressed for time and space like we were tonight.”

That being said, expect to see the return of the Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton 9/10 axis and expect a few more Leinster heads to get starts in Melbourne.

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