Two big calls in our Ireland team that needs to start against Scotland
With another area of debate being who gets the No.2 jersey.
Next Friday, March 10, Andy Farrell will name what should be his strongest Ireland team since the tour to New Zealand, last summer.
While Ireland were in decent health for the Bank of Ireland Nations Series, last November, should a host of key players pass fitness markers over the coming week, Farrell should be able to pick a team with 14 of his strongest 15.
Tadhg Beirne may well be the only guaranteed starter that is not involved at Murrayfield, against Scotland. Saying that, Farrell and coaching staff may choose to ease back some other big names after extended periods on the sidelines.
27 players have been retained for a two-day training camp, on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Farrell's Grand Slam-chasing side will face off against Richie Murphy's Grand Slam-chasing Under 20s squad and both sessions will be close to full tilt. For the likes of Tadhg Furlong, Robbie Henshaw and Jamison Gibson-Park, these sessions are a chance to prove they are reading to go straight in against Scotland.
Changes coming to Ireland team
Andy Farrell was not taking as many risks with senior players for the Italy game. If in doubt, Farrell was erring on the side of caution and resting lads. In a World Cup year, and with such depth, it was a sensible option.
The schedule has, once again, fallen favourably for Ireland. They went hard for two straight weekends and have decent gaps either side of that game against Italy. Farrell has sent fringe players back to their provinces to get game-time but will already be forming a plan for his starting XV on Sunday, March 12.
The following Ireland team (listed below) is the starting XV and bench that we would select to face Scotland. This is not necessarily the team we feel Farrell will pick, more a piece on the players and combinations we would go with. For example, we suspect Iain Henderson will start again, despite Ryan Baird looking very effective off the bench against Italy.
That second row call and scrumhalf are our two biggest calls. While we are bringing Robbie Henshaw and Tadhg Furlong in for starts, with are sticking with Conor Murray at No.9 with Jamison Gibson-Park primed for 25 to 30 minutes off the bench.
Starting hooker is almost a toss-up, at this stage, but we are opting for Dan Sheehan over Rønan Kelleher. Before you read our full match-day squad, apologies to Stuart McCloskey, a man we have long championed for Test minutes on this site.
OUR IRELAND TEAM TO FACE SCOTLAND
15. Hugo Keenan
14. Mack Hansen
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. James Lowe
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray
1. Andrew Porter
2. Dan Sheehan
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Ryan Baird
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O'Mahony
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Caelan Doris
Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Tom O'Toole, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Bundee Aki.
Ireland are top of the Six Nations standings with a full set of 15 points after their opening three matches. Scotland and France are next, with 10 points apiece.
- Ireland vs Italy: All the big talking points, moments and player ratings
- The winners and losers from Ireland's Italian job
- "Apologies for the language" - Bundee Aki frustrations picked up on ref microphone during Italy win
- Lawrence Dallaglio makes seismic Ireland claim as Brian O’Driscoll praises Caelan Doris