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6 Nations

Plenty of Changes; Ireland vs Scotland Preview

Both Ireland and Scotland have been forced to make changes to their teams but who will benefit from them?

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Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland have made five changes to the team that lost last weekend as they hope to bounce back against a confident Scottish team in Murrayfield on Saturday.

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.

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 confidence boosting win.

6 Nations

Munster Announce Six More Contract Extensions

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that six players have signed contract extensions at the province.

Diarmuid Barron, Jack Daly, Ben Healy, Keynan Knox, Jeremy Loughman and Simon Zebo have all put pen to paper on new contracts.

Hooker Diarmuid Barron has signed a new two-year contract having made 20 appearances for Munster to date, including his Champions Cup debut against Castres last month.

The 23-year-old Tipperary native is a product of Cashel RFC and Rockwell College and has also lined out for Garryowen in the AIL, he was promoted from the Greencore Munster Academy to the senior squad last season.

Castleisland RFC flanker Jack Daly has signed a two-year contract extension having made four appearances for the province to date.

A Garryowen clubman, Daly is a former Ireland U20s international and has made two appearances so far this term having moved up to the senior squad from the Academy last summer.

Ben Healy lines up a place-kick earlier in the season for Munster ©INPHO/Ashley Crowden

Ben Healy has signed a one-year contract extension with the 22-year-old Tipperary out-half scoring 144 points in 27 Munster appearances to date.

A product of Nenagh Ormond and Glenstal Abbey, Healy has also lined out for Garryowen in the AIL and is enjoying a strong first year in the senior squad having won the province’s Greencore Academy Player of the Year award last season.

Loosehead prop Jeremy Loughman has signed a new two-year deal having scored four tries in 57 Munster appearances.

Loughman initially joined Munster from the Leinster Academy on a short-term contract in December 2017 but quickly established himself as a key squad member and made his 50th appearance against Ulster last year.

Tighthead prop Keynan Knox has signed on for two more years at Munster having scored two tries in 20 appearances for the province.

The 22-year-old South Africa native moved to Munster at the end of 2017 with the Young Munster clubman spending three years in the Academy before moving up to the senior squad last season.

Munster’s all-time leading try-scorer with 62 tries, Simon Zebo has signed a new two-year deal having scored two tries in four appearances since returning to the province from Racing 92 last summer.

The Ireland international and former British & Irish Lion is a product of the Academy and has made 148 Munster appearances since his debut in 2010.

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6 Nations

Six Munster Players Sign Contract Extensions

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Joey Carbery, Liam Coombes, Chris Farrell, Jean Kleyn, Jack O’Sullivan, and Greencore Munster Rugby Academy player and Alex Kendellen have all put pen to paper on new contracts. 

The six players have signed two-year contract extensions that will see them remain with the province until at least June 2024.

Since joining the squad in 2018 Ireland international Carbery has made 30 appearances in red, scoring 264 points.

During this time, the out-half has been unlucky with injuries but has returned to show his quality on each occasion and while he is currently sidelined with an elbow injury, it’s a huge boost to have a player of his calibre commit to the province.

With four tries in 10 appearances, Coombes has shown his quality and versatility since moving up to the senior squad from the Academy in 2020.

A product of Skibbereen and CBC, 24-year-old Coombes plays his Energia AIL rugby with Garryowen and has lined out on the wing and outside centre for the province.

In his second year of the academy, 20-year-old Alex Kendellen will advance to the senior ranks ahead of the 2022/23 season.

A product of PBC, the UCC back-row forward has made four appearances to date with his first start coming against Connacht in the United Rugby Championship last weekend.

Kendellen, who captained the Ireland U-20s last year, was one of the stand out performers at the U20 Six Nations Championship held in Wales in June 2021.

Ireland international centre Chris Farrell has scored eight tries in 52 Munster appearances since making his debut in September 2017.

Farrell has earned 15 international caps since moving to Munster from Grenoble and has been an ever-present for the province since returning from an abdomen injury last month.

Ireland international lock Kleyn is closing in on a century of Munster appearances, scoring 12 tries in 97 games since joining from the DHL Stormers in 2016.

Kleyn has been one of the province’s most consistent performers over recent seasons and is currently sidelined with a knee injury.

Back-row forward O’Sullivan has scored two tries in 21 Munster appearances since making his debut in 2019.

A product of PBC, the 23-year-old UCC clubman made his Champions Cup debut in January 2020 and made 10 appearances last year after graduating from the Academy.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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6 Nations

Garry Ringrose Signs New Three Year IRFU Contract

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Image Credit - @IrishRugby Twitter

Ireland centre Garry Ringrose has signed a three year IRFU contract which will see him continue to play with Leinster until the end of the 2024/25 season.

Garry started all three of Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures having missed the summer Tests through injury.  Garry made his Ireland debut against Canada in the 2016 Guinness November Series and has since represented his country on 37 occasions scoring 10 tries.

Garry Ringrose in action against New Zealand in the recent Autumn Nations Series, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 13/11/2021

A grand slam winner in 2018 Garry also starred on the summer tour of Australia and started four or Ireland’s Rugby World Cup fixtures in Japan in 2019.

The former Ireland U20 has made 90 senior appearances for Leinster scoring 28 tries and has won a European Champions Cup (2018) and four PRO rugby titles (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021) with his province.

IRFU High Performance Director, David Nucifora commented,

“Garry has had a tough road with injuries since the World Cup in Japan but he is a top international player who delivers big performances for Ireland and Leinster.   He will be an influential figure at both national and provincial level over the coming years.”

Garry Ringrose commented, “Delighted to sign for another three years. It is an exciting time to be involved with Leinster and Ireland. Both squads have ambition to be competing for silverware every year and I’m motivated to do whatever I can to contribute”

Source – Irish Rugby

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