One way Ireland can start Beirne, Ryan and Henderson against France
It is possible, and it may be worth a try.
Down in Australia, on Ireland's tour last summer, Joe Schmidt was desperate to counter the detrimental effect David Pocock and Michael Hooper had on his side in the Brisbane Test defeat.
The solution was to draft in Dan Leavy but that one hit the skids when the Leinster openside, who had a superb breakthrough season for Ireland, went off injured at half-time. Jordi Murphy replaced him at the break but Peter O'Mahony did a lot of the grunt work at the breakdown.
For the deciding Test, after Ireland had levelled matters in Melbourne, O'Mahony was handed the No.7 jersey. The Munster man had done so much damage at the breakdown in Sydney (three turnovers, ball slowed dramatically down) that he was tasked with being the groundhog again.
He lasted only 30 minutes before one aerial collision too many with Israel Folau saw him helped off. This weekend, with France coming to town, it may be worth revisiting O'Mahony in the openside role again.
On Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby, former Ireland internationals Andrew Trimble and Barry Murphy looked ahead to the visit of France, and discussed how to get Tadhg Beirne AND Iain Henderson into the
"Tadhg Beirne's ball-carrying is excellent and that is the one thing we are missing at the moment," said Murphy, "a guy that will get in there and slow the ball down. He is arguably the best in the northern hemisphere at doing it. Stick him in your team."
In Murphy's Ireland second row, he sided with Beirne and Henderson but one imagines James Ryan is close to undroppable in the current squad. There is a way to get all three in, and it involves O'Mahony.
Dan Leavy is definitely out of this weekend's encounter with Les Bleus so the presumption is Sean O'Brien edging out Josh van der Flier for the openside role. However, Schmidt could employ O'Mahony at No.7 and start with either the versatile Beirne or Henderson at blindside.
Both men have club and Test experience in the role, with Beirne wearing jerseys 4 to 8 in his two-season stint with Scarlets. Henderson prefers blindside and would provide some real grunt to the Irish back row.
Naming Ryan, Beirne, Henderson, O'Mahony and Stander (if fit) in jerseys 4 to 8 would trouble the French at the breakdown, lineout and in the loose.
POTENTIAL IRELAND TEAM TO FACE FRANCE
1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. James Ryan
5. Tadhg Beirne
6. Iain Henderson
7. Peter O'Mahony
8. CJ Stander
9. Conor Murray
10. Johnny Sexton
11. Jacob Stockdale
12. Bundee Aki
13. Garry Ringrose
14. Keith Earls
15. Rob Kearney
If Schmidt prefers to go back to that template that started in Sydney, when Ireland clinched the Test Series, he could go Stander-O'Mahony and Jack Conan in his back row.
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