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02nd Mar 2021

Strong Ireland team Andy Farrell should pick to turn over Scotland

Patrick McCarry

Ireland team

“Going to Murrayfield, it is always an incredibly tough game.”

Johnny Sexton would have been forgiven for asking reporters to focus on his side’s big win over Italy, but the reality is that the real tests for this Ireland team lie in store.

Up next are an away trip to take on Scotland, who started the championship by stunning England only to slip up to Wales, and the reigning champions themselves. Eddie Jones’ men will come to Dublin on March 20 and could be playing to avoid a 5th place finish, if they fail to beat France at Twickenham.

For all those gripping about Italy’s place in the Six Nations, they do have a good crop of young players coming through. Hopefully they will be in a better place come 2022 and 2023. A ‘play-in’ tournament could always be considered, as part of the autumn internationals every year [or on a bi-annual basis] forcing Italy to earn their place in the Six Nations for the next decade.

As it stands, the likes of England and Ireland can rack up morale-boosting wins before telling us all how tough that 30-point victory really was. For this Ireland squad, that trip to Rome was a soothing balm after a tough start to the championship.

What the 48-10 Ireland win has provided is further evidence that Johnny Sexton is still a key player and that both Craig Casey and Ryan Baird should be involved in the squad for the closing two games.

Elsewhere, Dave Kilcoyne and Ronan Kelleher are now pushing hard for starting roles in the front three and we now look to have ourselves a tidy back row of Tadhg Beirne, Will Connors and CJ Stander [with Jack Conan well placed for bench cover].

Jamison Gibson Park deserves another start, so Conor Murray may have to sit another game out, will the midfield and fullback positions are locks. James Lowe is set to start all five championship games – Andy Farrell is investing in his Test development – leaving the right wing debate a live one.

For us, if Jordan Larmour overcomes his hip injury, he should start ahead off 33-try man Keith Earls. This one is harsh, but we would put the fit again Jacob Stockdale on the bench too in that 11-15 cover role.

Our Ireland team to face Scotland

15. Hugo Keenan
14. Jordan Larmour
13. Gary Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. James Lowe
10. Johnny Sexton (c)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Cian Healy
2. Ronan Kelleher
3. Andrew Porter
4. Iain Henderson
5. James Ryan
6. Tadhg Beirne
7. Will Connors
8. CJ Stander

Subs: Rob Herring, Dave Kilcoyne, Tadhg Furlong, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Craig Casey, Billy Burns, Jacob Stockdale.

Andy Farrell released 13 players from his initial 36-man squad [for rounds 1-3] back to their provinces for game-time, this weekend, so some may vault their hand up for Test selection.

Do not expect many surprises, though, and do not expect many big changes from the matchday 23 that the Ireland coach selected for that Italy game.


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