Joe Schmidt gambled with players last weekend in Ireland’s 32-20 loss to England, but the damage has been much worse than just the result.
Most noticeably he chose to start three natural centres in Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose, and Robbie Henshaw, who came in at full-back.
It was a bold move however, Ringrose was ruled out earlier in the week due to a tight hamstring and today it was confirmed that Henshaw has picked up a dead leg and will miss this round.
All of which has led Schmidt to pick Munster’s Chris Farrell at 13 to partner Aki. Farrell isn’t a bad option, he played one match for his country last year and picked up the man of the match award and has an unexpected opportunity to prove himself once more.
Elsewhere, the front row has remained the same with Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong joining captain Rory Best. In the second-row James Ryan is partnered by Quinn Roux, who will win his first 6 Nations start, following Devin Toner’s injury.
At the back of the pack there are two changes with Sean O’Brien getting the nod ahead of Josh Van Der Flier, who was Ireland’s standout performer last time out. He is pushed to the bench.
Jack Conan comes in to replace CJ Stander at No 8, after Stander played 62 minutes with two fractures in his cheek and eye socket against the English.
The pack is completed by Peter O’Mahony.
Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton continue in the half-back positions, while Aki and Farrell are at inside and outside centre as mentioned previously.
In back-three is made up of Jacob Stockdale, Keith Earls, and a fit again Rob Kearney, who takes over at full-back.
The bench remains largely the same as last week and will add a great amount of power when used. With the likes of Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, Joey Carbery and Jordan Larmour to call upon. Ultan Dillane is the only change.
The Scottish team sees four changes to the one that saw off Italy 33-20 last Saturday.
In the front-row Allan Dell and captain Stuart McInally are joined by Simon Berghan, who comes in for the injured WP Nel.
In the second-row, Ben Tollis moves to the bench as Jonny Gray plays alongside Grant Gilchrist.
There is a change in the back-row also, as Josh Struass replaces Sam skinner. Ryan Wilson and Jamie Ritchie are his partners at 6 and 7 respectively.
Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell begin the game at scrum-half and out-half, while Sam Johnson and Huw Jones remain in the centre.
Sean Maitland has been chosen ahead of last week’s hat-trick hero Blair Kinghorn at 11, with Tommy Seymour and Staurt Hogg making up the starting XV.
There are also four new players on the bench for the hosts as Fraser Brown, Pete Horne and Rob Harley take a sit with the uncapped D’arcy Rae.
BREAKING | Scotland make four changes for this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Ireland @BTMurrayfield.— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) February 7, 2019
🔄 Berghan and Strauss replace injured Nel and Skinner, Gray & Maitland return from injury for Toolis and Kinghorn who move to the bench.
➡️ https://t.co/y0gRovACwY pic.twitter.com/wob5Ffn4JO
Speaking ahead of the clash Schmidt admitted his excitement at Farrell having a chance to shine.
“It’s a pretty exciting opportunity to give Chris Farrell the chance to play against Scotland. He stepped in only once last year, got man-of-the-match, and he’s a guy that’s coming back to form after the long lay-off that he’s had,” he said.
He also told the press that Ireland have to move on from last weekend’s defeat and grow into the match on Saturday.
“We have to build our way into the game, we can’t be chasing things and trying to get instant results. You’ve got to earn whatever you get up there because they give so little away. (Last week’s defeat) doesn’t change the mentality too much, we just want to take it one game at a time. We’re not going to chase a tournament when we’ve got such a tough task in front of us,” he added.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has warned his team that this will be their biggest challenge in this year’s 6 Nations.
“It’s massive. It’s probably the biggest challenge we’ll face in the Guinness Six Nations, given the way Ireland have been playing in the last few years – they are Grand Slam Champions and the number-two team in the world,” he said.
Scotland currently sit top of the table after round one due to their bonus-point victory over the Italians, but the spotlight will be firmly on last year’s Grand Slam winners, Ireland, to see how they react especially with the injuries to adding to the pressure.
What is certain is that at 14 15 on Saturday there will be two teams going all out for a
Fitzgerald Stunned by One Players Ireland Omission
Former Ireland and Leinster star Luke Fitzgerald has admitted his disbelief at one players’ shock omission from Ireland’s Six Nations squad
The new head coach named his first squad last week and despite naming a total of six back-rows among the squad, Ruddock is not one of them and while speaking on the Independent.ie’s rugby podcast, The Left Wing, Fitzgerald admitted he is “astonished”.
“I thought it was an amazing omission. I thought it was a stinker. I thought it was a complete cop-out. He is the easy guy to drop. He was one of our only good players out at the World Cup. He has been excellent for Leinster for a very long period of time and even though he has had a few injuries and might not always be picked because Leinster rotate him, he is always picked for the big games when he is fit. He is a captain, so he is a leader in there as well. I just don’t get,” he said.
Ruddock’s form has been at a high-level for some time now and was seen by many as a shining light during Ireland’s Rugby World Cup campaign last year.
However, Ruddock’s Leinster team-mates Josh van der Flier, Max Deegan and Caelan Doris were joined in the squad by Munster trio CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony and Jack O’Donoghue as the back-row options.
Fitzgerald believes that maybe head coach Farrell is looking for something different in his back-row options and that Ruddock doesn’t fit the bill, but still can’t understand his decision.
“People see the game differently. I find that one really hard to understand but look, it shows you that people can focus in on small parts of someone’s game and that is obviously what has cost him. It baffles me but they are obviously looking at something and saying that other players do that better but I find it astonishing,” he added.
Fitzgerald was among many to suggest that Ruddock could be an option as a potential Ireland captain before the announcement and his omission doesn’t seem to have gone down well amongst fans.
However, for now Ruddock isn’t in the squad, and it remains to be seen if he will be brought in if there are any injuries. The Ireland squad are currently preparing for their opening Six Nations game against Scotland on Saturday February 1st, while Ruddock remains in the Leinster squad.
Jones Drops 10 for Six Nations Squad
England head coach Eddie Jones has named his Six Nations squad and has left out 10 players that were involved in the recent Rugby World Cup
Of the absentees Saracens No 8 Billy Vunipola is the biggest name to miss out following the news that he will be injured for the entire tournament through injury.
Other big hitters to be excluded are Joe Cokanasiga, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, and veteran Dan Cole.
However, in their absence there is a total of eight uncapped players set to be involved in Tom Dunn, Ollie Thorley, Ben Earl, Jacob Umaga, Alex Moon, George Furbank, Fraser Dingwell and Will Stuart.
Speaking on their selection Jones admitted that they all have a chance of playing, but that he wanted them to at least be amongst the squad as they build towards the future.
“It is always about winning the next game so we have picked the best squad available. At the same time we wanted to bring some young players in because we need to keep building our depth so for those new players it is an exciting opportunity for them,” he said.
Meanwhile, there is also the inclusion of Josh Hodge and Alex Mitchell, who have been named as apprentices for the campaign and will be training with the first-team squad.
Elsewhere, it is the familiar faces that make-up the squad with the likes of Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes and Manu Tuilagi among the experienced players.
With expectation building following their run to the World Cup final last year, Jones has confirmed that the team remain focused on one task and that is their opening game against France in a couple of weeks.
“The Guinness Six Nations for us is all about raising the standards in terms of the way we prepare, tactically and physically how we play the game, and the way we come together off the field. But our first task is beating France in France and that is the only game we need to worry about. We will begin our preparations in Portugal, get a bit of sun, some warm conditions and get ourselves physically and mentally right for the game. The first three days will be about getting organised. We have got players from 11 clubs so we need to get everyone on the same page quickly, spend a lot of time working on our togetherness and then by Tuesday next week we are in Test preparation for France,” he added.
England will be hoping to continue their fine form that saw them pick up silver medals at the tournament in Japan and with some exciting young players having an opportunity things are looking good for Jones and his men.
Check Out the Full 34-Man Squad Below.
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 19 caps)
Tom Dunn (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)
Ben Earl (Saracens, uncapped)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)
Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 14 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 45 caps)
Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors, 1 cap)
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 34 caps)
George Kruis (Saracens, 41 caps)
Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 62 caps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 81 caps)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 6 caps)
Joe Marler (Harlequins, 68 caps)
Alex Moon (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 31 caps)
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 15 caps)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 58 caps)
Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 18 caps)
Elliot Daly (Saracens, 39 caps)
Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs, 1 cap)
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 79 caps)
George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 65 caps)
George Furbank (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 9 caps)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 47 caps)
Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 52 caps)
Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped)
Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 40 caps)
Jacob Umaga (Wasps, uncapped)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 42 caps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 95 caps)
Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons, uncapped)
Farrell Names Ireland’s Six Nations Squad
New Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has confirmed a 35-man strong squad ahead of the upcoming Six Nations campaign
There is a total of five uncapped players within the squad, while Farrell and his coaching staff have included a further four development players that will train with the senior squad.
All of the five have been in blistering form so far this season, helping Leinster and Ulster to first and second in Conference A of the PRO14 respectively.
Meanwhile, Leinster’s Will Connors, Harry Byrne and Ryan Baird are joined by Ulster’s Robert Baloucoune in the development programme which will see the quartet train with the squad in Portugal in the lead up to the opening round of the tournament.
Speaking on the selections Farrell admitted that he has been impressed by the players that attended a “stock take” last month, but has told players that their places are not guaranteed throughout the entire tournament.
“As we progress through the Championship we will look to select sides that we believe are best suited to the task at the weekend. We will keep a close eye on the provincial performances in the PRO14 not just for the players in the squad that will transition back for game minutes but also for those players that were part of the wider selection discussions over the past few weeks,” he said.
Elsewhere, Johnny Sexton has been named as captain following the retirement of Rory Best following the Rugby World Cup in Japan and Farrell believes that he is the perfect man for the job.
“We have appointed Johnny as captain for the Six Nations Championship, you can see what it means to him and the enthusiasm he will bring to the role. He has been developing as a leader for a number of years with Ireland, Leinster and the Lions and he will be a positive voice for the group,” he added.
There is a return to test rugby for Devin Toner, who was left out of that squad that travelled to Japan, with his replacement Jean Kleyn not being selected. Ultan Dillane is also back as a second-row option alongside stars Iain Henderson and James Ryan.
However, despite his excellent form for Leinster Jamison Gibson-Park is not selected, with John Cooney, Luke McGrath and Conor Murray being preferred in the scrum-half department.
Along with Gibson-Park Ulster fans will be unhappy to see centre Stuart McCloskey miss out after his fine form this season to date, with Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose getting the nod ahead of him.
The rest of the squad is as you would expect with regular players involved.
Ireland will be hoping to get off to the perfect start in the championship when they host Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday February 1st and fans will be excited to see how many youngsters get a chance in what is the start of a new era for Irish Rugby.
Check Out the Full 35-Man Squad Below.
Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster) 0 caps
Caelan Doris (UCD/Leinster) 0 caps
Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 14 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 41 caps
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 95 caps
Dave Heffernan (Buccaneers/Connacht) 1 cap
Iain Henderson (Academy/Ulster) 53 caps
Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 8 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster) 0 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 36 caps
Jack McGrath (St Mary’s College/Ulster) 56 caps
Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster) 2 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 64 caps
Tom O’Toole (Banbridge/Ulster) 0 caps
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps
CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 38 caps
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 67 caps
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps
Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) 4 caps
Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 23 caps
Billy Burns (Ulster) 0 caps
Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 3 caps
Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 18 caps
John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 8 caps
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 82 caps
Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 9 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 40 caps
Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 19 caps
Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 21 caps
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 19 caps
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 78 caps
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 28 caps
Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 88 caps CAPTAIN
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 25 caps
Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster)
Robert Baloucoune (Enniskillen/Ulster)
Harry Byrne (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Will Connors (UCD/Leinster).
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