Three changes to Ireland XV that should start Grand Slam decider with England
Even with the latest injuries, it is a really strong XV.
At Murrayfield, on Sunday, this Ireland team proved you could throw just about any obstacle in their way and they would find a way over, under, around or just straight through it.
Ireland lost four of their forwards (three starters and a replacement) before the 45-minute mark then had backline leader Garry Ringrose brought off on a stretcher. They also overcame a disallowed try and a solid Scotland start, had a loosehead scrummaging as a hooker and an openside throwing to the lineout. All of that and a passionate Scotland home support on their backs and they still won 22-7 and finished at a canter.
"I think it's a testament to the belief that we, as a squad, have in each other, that the management has in us," Jack Conan professed, after the final whistle in Edinburgh.
One would put very little past this Ireland team but next Saturday's Grand Slam decider against England, who are two wins and two losses from their four games, will require them to revisit that well, and drop that bucket deep, again. They have a six-day turnaround and are very much the walking wounded, at this stage.
Changes coming for this Ireland team
There will definitely be changes when Andy Farrell names his Ireland team to face England, on Thursday afternoon. Garry Ringrose will be going through Return To Play protocols but is very unlikely to feature after his jarring injury.
Iain Henderson flew out of Scotland with his injured wrist in a cast and Rónan Kelleher's shoulder woes should see him miss out on next Saturday evening's clash. Dan Sheehan already had an x-ray, at Murrayfield, and serious damage has been ruled out. We have him in our Ireland XV but with Rob Herring the next man up, and Tom Stewart next, if Sheehan does not pull through midweek fitness checks.
Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki are reunited in the Ireland midfield with Stuart McCloskey back in the match-day 23, along with lock Kieran Treadwell. Should Caelan Doris not be risked, we would start Jack Conan and elevate Gavin Coombes to the bench. Coombes, of course, can cover second row too.
Our only tactical change sees Jamison Gibson-Park starting ahead of Conor Murray after a positive cameo off the bench against the Scots. Should Andy Farrell stick with Murray, though, you will find no qualms with us.
OUR IRELAND TEAM TO FACE ENGLAND
15. Hugo Keenan
14. Mack Hansen
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. James Lowe
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Jamison Gibson-Park
1. Andrew Porter
2. Dan Sheehan/Rob Herring
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Ryan Baird
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O'Mahony
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Caelan Doris
Replacements: Rob Herring/Tom Stewart, Cian Healy, Tom O'Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Ross Byrne, Stuart McCloskey.
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