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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

Farrell Names 37 Player Squad For 2022 Guinness Six Nations

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Andy Farrell and the Ireland coaching group have named a 37 player squad ahead of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship which commences in early February.

The squad will be captained by Johnny Sexton who earned his 100th cap for his country against Japan during the November international window.

Ireland will host Wales, Italy and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium over the course of the Championship while also travelling to Paris and London to face France and England respectively.

There are two uncapped players named in the extended squad – Ulster’s Michael Lowry and Connacht’s Mack Hansen. Both have trained with the national squad in the past few months, Lowry during the Vodafone Summer Series in July and Hansen during the Autumn Nations Series in November.

Michael Lowry training with Ireland during the Vodafone Summer Series, July 2021

Connacht’s Cian Prendergast will join the squad for the training camp in Portugal as a Development Player. The former Ireland U20 player has made nine appearances for Connacht this season.

James Lowe has picked up a muscle injury that has ruled him out for a number of weeks.

Andy Farrell, Ireland Head Coach, commented: “In November we challenged the group to get up to speed quickly so that the team could perform at international level. The same will apply for this Six Nations campaign, we need to be at our best against Wales on the opening weekend.

“We have a strong squad with competition for places across the board, there is a nice blend of experienced internationals and guys who have had their first taste of this level in the past 12 months.  The games in November gave us a good foundation to build on and areas where we know we will have to improve.

“It will be an exciting Championship with so many strong squads and impressive performances across the board during the Autumn.”

Ireland’s opening fixture of the 2022 Six Nations Championship is against Wales on Saturday 5th February. A week later, the squad will travel to France to take on Les Bleus in Paris. In Round 3, on Sunday 27th February, Ireland host Italy at the Aviva Stadium and then travel to Twickenham to take on England two weeks later.

In the final round of the Championship, Ireland host Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 19th March.

All games will be available on free-to-air television in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. ITV (NI) will broadcast all of Ireland’s games, RTE (ROI) will broadcast the games against Wales and England while VIRGIN (ROI) will broadcast the games against France, Italy and Scotland.

IRELAND Guinness Six Nations Squad 2022

Backs (17)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 33 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 27 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 10 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 4 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 27 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 96 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 12 caps
Mack Hansen (Connacht) uncapped
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 53 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 16 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 30 caps
Michael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge) uncapped
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 92 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 101 caps CAPTAIN

Forwards (20)
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 6 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 18 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 25 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 22 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 12 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 52 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 112 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 65 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 23 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 16 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 45 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 79 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 2 caps
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 40 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 40 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 2 caps
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 3 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 35 caps

Development Player
Cian Prendergast (Connacht)

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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Scotland name Six Nations Squad

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Gregor Townsend has named five uncapped players in his 39-man squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations including Saracens back-rower Andy Christie and London Irish scrum-half Ben White.

Rory Darge, Ben Vellacott and Kyle Rowe are also rewarded with call-ups ahead of Scotland’s first game of the championship on Saturday 5 February against England.

Andy Christie represented Scotland at youth level, playing for the Under-16s and the 22-year-old has played with Saracens since 2018, becoming a prominent figure for the London side.

Ben White, aged 23, signed for London Irish last year from Leicester Tigers and featured in their victory over Edinburgh Rugby last weekend.

Fellow London Irish player Kyle Rowe is also named in the squad having impressed in the Premiership this season, notably scoring a hat-trick against Saracens and was previously a member of the Scotland 7s and U20s teams.

Darge and Vellacott have been selected due to consistently good performances at Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh respectively.

Following his memorable debut against England last year, Bath centre Cameron Redpath has recovered from injury and will once again be in contention ahead of the Six Nations opener.

During the Autumn Nations Cup, Ewan Ashman, Jamie Hodgson, Josh Bayliss, Javan Sebastian, Pierre Schoeman, Rufus McLean and Sione Tuipulotu all received their first Scotland caps and are included once again.

he squad will meet up at Oriam on Monday 24 January for a training camp before reconvening the following week ahead of the Calcutta Cup clash.

Fresh from claiming top spot in Scotland’s all-time try scoring list during the Autumn Nations Series Stuart Hogg once again captains his country.

He is joined by fellow British & Irish Lions adding their experience to the squad in Finn Russell, Ali Price, Zander Fagerson, Chris Harris, Rory Sutherland, Duhan van der Merwe and Hamish Watson.

Elsewhere there are call-ups for Edinburgh pair back-row Magnus Bradbury and prop WP Nel who missed out on selection for the Autumn Nations, as did Exeter Chiefs lock Jonny Gray who also returns.

Northampton centre Rory Hutchinson also earns a squad selection having not featured for Scotland in 2021.

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “When you look through the squad this is the most competitive I’ve seen it in so many areas and that’s testament to the strength and depth we have.

“We are able to call-up several new players into the squad such as Andy Christie, Kyle Rowe and Ben White. We have been aware of all of the uncapped players for a while now and recently they have all experienced a breakthrough in terms of their performances at club level.

“A key part of the squad selection was rewarding form and that definitely applies to Ben Vellacott and Rory Darge who have been excellent for their clubs this season.

“We’re delighted to be able to include Cameron Redpath in the squad after missing the last few months with injury. He managed to get a game under his belt prior to the squad selection so we’ll see how he performs for Bath and in our training over the next couple of weeks.

“The Guinness Six Nations is the best competition we have in rugby so to be involved in it is a real privilege, especially starting with our oldest rivals in front of a sold-out home crowd.”

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Wales squad for 2022 Guinness Six Nations named

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Wales have named a 36-man squad for the 2022 Guinness Six Nations campaign.

Three uncapped players feature, with Ospreys duo Dewi Lake (hooker) and Jac Morgan (back row) receiving call ups alongside Cardiff Rugby’s James Ratti (back row).

Another five players could be in line to make their first Six Nations appearance, including Bradley Roberts and Christ Tshiunza who made their international debut in the 2021 Autumn Nations Series.

Dan Biggar will captain the squad for the 2022 Guinness Six Nations in the absence of the injured Alun Wyn Jones, with Adam Beard named as vice-captain.

Ross Moriarty and Alex Cuthbert could win their 50th caps during the campaign, Jonathan Davies could reach the milestone of 100 Test appearances overall and Dan Biggar would be in line for his 100th Wales cap if he features in all five matches.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said: “We are excited to get back together as a squad when we meet up on Monday.

“The Guinness Six Nations is a very special competition and we want to go out and win, like every other nation. This is tournament rugby, so it’s about working hard in training and preparing well each week.

“Last year the Six Nations offered fans an exciting brand of rugby with lots of tries and, while we know we have five tough matches ahead and the margins in Test rugby are fine, we are looking forward to the challenge.

“With the world cup on the horizon next year, every match will be important for development on the road to France.

On the captain Pivac said: “In terms of captaincy we’ve named Dan Biggar. With the experience missing with some players out injured, we wanted someone who had experienced the competition on a number of occasions and knows the rigours of it. He gives us that – he has 95 Wales caps and he’s toured with the British and Irish Lions.

“Dan has the respect of the other players and management so we think he’ll do a great job.”

Following last week’s confirmation that spectators can return to watch Wales in Cardiff Pivac added: “It’s fantastic news that we will continue to have crowds at Principality Stadium.

“We have the most incredible fans and the atmosphere they create is second to none. I know the players cannot wait to get back out and put in a performance for them.”

The squad will meet up at the national training base in Hensol on Monday 24 January ahead of its first game against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Saturday 5 February (KO 2.15pm).

Limited tickets are still available for Wales’ three home fixtures at Principality Stadium via WRU member clubs or at: wru.wales/tickets

WALES 2022 GUINNESS SIX NATIONS SQUAD
 
Forwards (20)
Rhys Carre (Cardiff Rugby – 16 caps)
Wyn Jones (Scarlets – 38 caps)
Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 5 caps)
Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 23 caps)
Dewi Lake (Ospreys – uncapped)
Bradley Roberts (Ulster Rugby – 1 cap)
Leon Brown (Dragons – 16 caps)
Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 60 caps)
Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 34 caps)
Adam Beard (Ospreys – 29 caps), vice-captain
Ben Carter (Dragons – 5 caps)
Seb Davies (Cardiff Rugby – 13 caps)
Will Rowlands (Dragons – 13 caps)
Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs – 2 caps)
Taine Basham (Dragons – 7 caps)
Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Rugby – 14 caps)
Jac Morgan (Ospreys – uncapped)
Ross Moriarty (Dragons – 49 caps)
James Ratti – (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 34 caps)

Backs (16)
Gareth Davies (Scarlets – 65 caps)
Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 8 caps)
Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 29 caps)
Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys – 29 caps)
Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints – 95 caps), captain
Rhys Priestland (Cardiff Rugby – 52 caps)
Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears – 13 caps)
Jonathan Davies (Scarlets – 93 caps)
Uilisi Halaholo (Cardiff Rugby – 9 caps)
Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 16 caps)
Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 26 caps)
Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 35 caps)
Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 48 caps)
Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 12 caps)
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets – 8 caps)
Liam Williams (Scarlets – 74 caps)

Players unavailable for selection due to injury:
Elliott Dee, Ken Owens, Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Josh Macleod, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Johnny Williams, George North, Leigh Halfpenny

Wales 2022 Six Nations fixtures

Sat 05/05/22 Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium KO 2.15pm (ITV & S4C)
Sat 12/02/22 Wales v Scotland, Principality Stadium, KO 2.15pm (BBC & S4C)
Sat 26/02/22 England v Wales, Twickenham Stadium, KO 4.45pm (Itv & S4C)
Fri 11/03/22 Wales v France, Principality Stadium, KO 8pm (BBC & S4C)
Sat 19/03/22 Wales v Italy, Principality Stadium, KO 2.15pm (BBC & S4C)

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