JOE SCHMIDT HAS been forced into a late change to his Ireland team to face Scotland in Saturday’s Six Nations clash at Murrayfield, with Robbie Henshaw pulling up with a dead leg.
After the opening weekend defeat to England, Schmidt has restored the experience and leadership of Rob Kearney and Seán O’Brien to his side, but Henshaw joins Devin Toner, Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander, Iain Henderson, Andrew Conway, Kieran Marmion, Luke McGrath and Tadhg Beirne on the injured list.
Munster’s Chris Farrell comes in for his fourth cap. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO
The expectation was that Henshaw — who started at fullback last weekend — would return to the Ireland midfield alongside Bundee Aki for the trip to Murrayfield [KO 2.15pm, Virgin Media], but the Leinster centre did not train at Carton House this morning.
Instead, Munster’s Chris Farrell will deputise at outside centre for his fourth international cap, and first since producing a man-of-the-match display against Wales during last year’s Grand Slam campaign.
25-year-old Farrell has endured his own injury problems in recent times, tearing the ACL in his left knee during the 2018 Six Nations and then suffering a frustrating thigh issue upon his return in November.
It means Schmidt’s starting XV shows five changes from the opening weekend defeat to England, with Kearney back in the 15 jersey, Connacht’s Quinn Roux deputising in the second row for Toner, O’Brien selected ahead of Josh van der Flier and Conan slotting in at the back of the scrum for Stander.
Ringrose reported hamstring tightness in the closing stages at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday, Toner aggravated an ankle injury and Stander sustained a facial injury which will keep him out for up to four weeks.
Keith Earls has shaken off a hip flexor injury to retain his place on the right wing, while Jacob Stockdale continues on the left. Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray are retained as the half-back pairing for the must-win game in Edinburgh.
In the pack, Rory Best captains the side again from hooker and is joined in the front row by Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong, with Roux winning his 10th cap, and first Six Nations start, in the engine room alongside James Ryan.
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The Ireland team at Carton House this morning. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Roux’s ability to call the lineout saw him preferred to Connacht team-mate Ultan Dillane, who provides the cover on the replacements bench having won the last of his 11 caps against Fiji back in November 2017.