Garry Ringrose tipped to return to Ireland midfield for French game
Ireland will definitely make changes to their team for the visit of France.
Three games into the 2019 Guinness Six Nations and Ireland are still in the title hunt. That may come as no surprise to many but given the fact that they were soundly beaten, without even a losing bonus point, against England in their opener, it is a reason to be hopeful.
Ireland sit on 9 points, one back from England and Wales lead on 13. Warren Gatland's men are the new championship favourites but England, with Italy then Scotland at home, will fancy their chances of securing two more big wins and finishing on 20 points. The final round sees Ireland play Wales at 2:45pm with England going last, against the Scots, at 5pm.
Losing 32-20 to England knocked Ireland on the back-foot and they still look unsure of themselves. However, ahead of the France game on March 10, they could do with rejigging their starting XV.
On the latest episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby [from 14:30 below], Andrew Trimble and Jenny Murphy were both in agreement on the player Ireland needed back to spark their backline.
Both Trimble and Murphy would love to see Garry Ringrose restored to the Irish midfield after he was forced to miss the Scotland and Italy games with injury.
"Jordi Murphy, Ultan Dillane and Dave Kilcoyne," said Trimble before he touched on the midfield changes that Ireland were forced to make against Italy. Bundee Aki did not return to the field of play after a Head Injury Assessment in the first half, meaning Chris Farrell shifted inside a position and Keith Earls was drafted as outside centre.
"I'd imagine Aki would be cleared and good to go," said Murphy, "and I thought Farrell had a decent game, given the amount of moving he had to do after coming back from a knee-knock.
"But, I'd say, if Ringrose is fit, he would come back and slot into that 13 position."
Aki and Ringrose started in midfield for the England game and were two of Ireland's better performers, but Robbie Henshaw should be fit and in the selection mix too. Murphy can't see Aki being left out so Farrell may be unfortunate to miss out.
Murphy feels Conor Murray will start again, despite not being at his best, with John Cooney in reserve ahead of Kieran Marmion. And, if Murray starts, expect to see Johnny Sexton beside him.
"They're still not where they were in the autumn, when they beat the All Blacks," Trimble added, "so they may be trying to play Murray and Sexton in the hopes that it all clicks again. I'm sure it is not a million miles away."