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6 Nations

Injuries Pile Up, but Who Should Start for Ireland?

After Ireland’s defeat to England questions have been raised so who should be given a chance to play in Murrayfield?

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

With the loss to England fresh in the mind Ireland must move on quickly and pick themselves up before facing Scotland in Murrayfield on Saturday.

The thing on everyone’s mind is who will Joe Schmidt pick in his matchday 23 to bounce back.

It has been confirmed that Garry Ringrose, Devin Toner and CJ Stander will play no part against the Scots after picking up injuries which could force Schmidt’s selection slightly.

The main criticism that the team has faced in the aftermath of their defeat was their lack of intensity throughout the game. So, who could bring that up, who could kick start their championship?

To start with, the front-row. The pack was inferior to the English last weekend, but the front-rowers are unlikely to change with most expecting Cian Healy, captain Rory Best, and Tadhg Furlong to retain their places.

They had a bad day at the office, however it would be hard to see any of them getting dropped.

In the locks James Ryan is almost certain to continue in the team, the question is who will partner him? It’s between last week’s sub Quinn Roux, Ultan Dillane, and newly drafted in Billy Holland after Toner was ruled out.

Roux has been a regular on the bench over the past while under Schmidt so he would appear the most likely to come into the starting XV, with Dillane or Holland on the bench.

The back-row is another area where a change is certain after it was confirmed CJ Stander played 62 minutes against England with two fractures in his cheek and eye socket. An injury which leaves him out for a minimum of four weeks.

The options at No 8 would probably be Jack Conin, an out and out eight, or the highly versatile Sean O’Brien. Rhys Ruddock and Jordi Murphy are other options, but what would seem clear is that whoever is picked will play with Peter O’Mahony and Josh Van Der Flier.

O’Mahony’s position is never really under question when he is fit as his leadership and work rate would see him into nearly any team. Van Der Flier has surely cemented his place in the side for at least this match after an outstanding showing in defeat, in which he made a sensational 19 tackles.

No 6 O’Mahony believes Leinster man O’Brien should start, but admits that he doesn’t pick the team, it’s only his opinion.

“I’m not going to sit here and pick the team, but Sean O’Brien, the name along speaks for itself,” he said when speaking about the weekend.

“He’s been unlucky with injury here and there, but there isn’t anybody more professional and a big-game player than Sean O’Brien,” he added showing his support for O’Brien’s inclusion.

Elsewhere, the half-backs are pretty set in stone with Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton expected to continue at scrum-half and out-half respectively.

Joey Carbery could be a surprise inclusion if there is any doubt over Sexton but is more likely to remain on the bench.

Bundee Aki will probably be at 12, and after his stint at full-back, Robbie Henshaw is almost certain to come in at 13 for the injured Garry Ringrose.

Chris Farrell is another option, along with utility back Will Addison if Schmidt wants to switch things up.

Henshaw’s move from 15 will mean changes to the back three too.

Last year’s player of the championship, Jacob Stockdale, has to stay at 11 after he still managed to make 78 metres last weekend with hardly any ball in hand.

Keith Earls trained well earlier today but was unconvincing against England before his withdrawal at half-time. That could open up the door for the likes of Jordan Larmour or Will Addison to sneak onto that wing, but probably not.

Andrew Conway would have been an option but has returned to Munster following an injury and is unavailable.

Rob Kearney is the most obvious choice to replace Henshaw at full-back after being left out last weekend. It is an opportunity he would relish to show his worth to the team.

Larmour and Addison could also be considered, however Kearney would be the most reliable selection. Whoever is picked will have to be up for a lot of running with Scotland’s Stuart Hogg on top form at the moment.

Outside the starting team, the bench is as competitive.

Sean Cronin is most likely to be at 16 while Jack McGrath and Dave Kilcoyne will both be options at 17, and Andrew Porter probably at 18.

Whoever misses out between Roux, Dillane, and Holland in the battle to partner Ryan in the second-row will have to fight for a place on the bench too.

Holland being drafted into the squad would suggest he will probably be an impact sub to come in after the hour mark.

Again, the losers of the war in the back-row between Murphy, O’Brien, Ruddock and Conan will have to compete to be in the 23.

John Cooney is certain to be on the bench after his brilliant cameo last weekend when he scored a try and impressed with his quick hands.

Carbery will have to be in the squad with his quality, so if not in the first 15 he will be the 22nd man.

Larmour and Addison will be the three that will be trying to force their way into the 23.

The changes will bring new dimensions, but the team as a whole will need to bring their A-game to win back the fans and send a message out that they are still in the running for the World Cup.

No place is certain following last weekend’s defeat and with the likes of Dan Leavy, Tadhg Beirne, Luke McGrath, and so on to also come back from injury before Japan. This is not only a chance to get back in title race, but a way to steak a claim for a place on that plane.

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6 Nations

May Issues Injury Update

England ace Jonny May has provided the public with an injury update after undergoing surgery

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(Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England winger Jonny May has taken to social media to provide the public with an update on his fractured cheekbone.

The 29-year-old picked up the injury early on in England’s win over Wales in the Six Nations and was forced off. It was later revealed that he would have to undergo surgery, but following that he has said he is raring to go and be sharper than before. 

“It’s never good picking up an injury but I will use this as an opportunity to regenerate/sharpen up and will be doing everything I can to get back on the pitch as soon as possible,” he said in his post. 

There is no exact timeline on when May could return to Premiership side Leicester Tigers and feature, with the club claiming he will miss an “extended period” after the surgery. 

However, with many leagues across the globe putting a halt to their campaigns due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports claim that the Premiership will follow suit in the next couple of days meaning it means May might not miss much rugby at all while injured. 

Depending on how it all works out May will probably be aiming for a return before the summer in order to get some minutes under his belt before England take on Japan in their two-test tour. 

It’s all up in the air at the moment, but it’s good to know that May is on the mend and relishing a return to play.

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6 Nations

Wales Switch Four for Scotland Game

Wales have made four changes to their starting line-up for this weekend’s Six Nations clash with Scotland

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(ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has made a total of four changes to his starting XV for this Saturday’s Six Nations game with Scotland in the Principality Stadium at 14 15.

Three of the four changes come in the pack with Wyn Jones and WillGriff John coming into the front-row, while Cory Hill comes in for Jake Ball in the second-row, in what will be his first test start for over a year. 

The only alteration in the backs sees Rhys Webb take the place of Gareth Davies, who drops to the bench. 

Elsewhere it’s the same as last time out against England with Ken Owens in the front-three alongside Jones and John, while Hill links up with captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row, with the skipper set to equal the world record for test caps with 148 during the game. 

The back-row has remained the same with Ross Moriarty staying in as blindside-flanker, Justin Tipuric continues on the openside and Josh Navidi remains at No 8. 

Webb partners Dan Biggar in the half-backs, while Hadleigh Parkes and Nick Tompkins are once again used in the centre-pairing. 

Liam Williams takes his place on the left-wing again, with George North on the right and Leigh Halfpenny finishes off the starting XV from full-back. 

On the bench there is a huge amount of talent with the likes of Rhys Carre, Taulupe Faletau and Johnny McNicholl joining Davies among the replacements. 

Speaking ahead of the game Pivac paid tribute to his captain and hopes the team can get a much-needed win. 

“Saturday is a great opportunity for us to wrap up the campaign with a big performance at home in Cardiff. We want to finish with the performance we know we can deliver and we have been working hard to get there. Alun Wyn is one of the most iconic figures in the game, he is our leader and I’m delighted for him as he continues to set the bar across the game,” he said. 

Wales will hope to avoid a fourth defeat in a row when they take on the Scots on Saturday, but they come up against a side who are on a high after seeing off Italy and France in their last two games. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below. 

Starting XV: 

Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Liam Williams; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, WillGriff John; Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones (C); Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi

Replacements: 

Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Davies, Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl

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6 Nations

Scotland Change Three for Welsh Test

Scotland have made a total of three changes to their starting line-up for their final game in this year’s Six Nations against Wales

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to his starting XV for this Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales at the Principality Stadium at 14 15.

All the changes come in the forwards with Stuart McInally taking over at hooker from Fraser Brown, who in turn drops to the bench.

Like Brown, Scott Cummings also move to the replacements as Sam Skinner takes a spot in the second-row and lastly Magnus Bradbury replaces Nick Haining at No 8, with Haining currently ill.

Elsewhere it’s as you where from the team that defeated France last weekend with Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson either side of McInally in the front-row, while Skinner joins Grant Gilchrist in the engine-room.

Jamie Ritchie continues as blindside-flanker, with Hamish Watson on the openside and Bradbury completes the pack from No 8.

Ali Price remains at scrum-half, with Adam Hastings at fly-half, and they have Sam Johnson and Chris Harris outside them in the midfield pairing.

Blair Kinghorn is once again on the left-wing, with two-try hero from last weekend Sean Maitland continuing on the right and Stuart Hogg captains the side from full-back.

There is a mix of experience and youth on the bench with the likes of Brown and Cummings being joined by Matt Fagerson and Kyle Steyn among the replacements.

Speaking ahead of the game Townsend admitted he is hoping that his team can build on their win last week.

“We set out this season to improve our consistency over a run of five tough games, something we have done well so far. We’ve stayed in the fight in every game, which is a credit to how hard the players have worked in training and during the Tests. It’s also been encouraging to see how well the players have grown together and have taken on board the input from new coaches, Steve (Tandy) and Pieter (de Villiers), who have done a great job in their first season with the team. We have huge respect for the Welsh team, who narrowly missed out on a World Cup final a few months ago. They are well-coached and have some outstanding players. It will be a fantastic occasion and one last opportunity to play to our potential in this championship,” he said.

Scotland will hope that they can pull off a first win on Welsh soil for 18 years on Saturday and know victory will see them finish above their rivals in the table. However, they will face a Welsh team desperate to avoid a fourth loss in a row.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

  1. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) – 76 caps
  2. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 48 caps
  3. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 18 caps
  4. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
  5. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 21 caps
  6. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 20 caps
  7. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps
  8. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh) – 7 caps
  9. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 37 caps
  10. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 29 caps
  11. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 7 caps
  12. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 42 caps
  13. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 18 caps
  14. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 32 caps
  15. Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) – 14 caps

Replacements:

  1. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 50 caps
  2. Allan Dell (London Irish) – 32 caps
  3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 38 caps
  4. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 12 caps
  5. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 6 caps
  6. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
  7. Duncan Weir (Worcester Warriors) – 28 caps
  8. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap

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