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Ireland will be desperate to retain interest in another Six Nations title

IRELAND will be under the Six Nations spotlight on Saturday as they strive to return to the form of last season. The emphatic defeat at the hands of the English has pierced the side of the green jerseys, they have been hurting all week, with the video analyses making pretty uncomfortable viewing, and they will be fired up for the fray.
There is more than just 6N points at stake in Murrayfield. There is Irish pride and individual self-esteem within the squad on the line here and the matchday squad of 23 will carry mighty responsibility. A win over Scotland will boost Ireland’s confidence as they face into the three remaining fixtures against Italy, France and Wales. Defeat is unthinkable.
Has Joe Schmidt given the nod to a starting fifteen that can do the business? That is the question. The plusses are: the return of Rob Kearney at full-back, his left booted clearances sadly missed against England; the safe pairing of nine and ten and the equally reliable front-row of Healy, Best and Furlong.
If you want to be negative, you could look at the inexperience of Quinn Roux and Jack Conan at this level and in this competition while Sean O’Brien’s match-fitness could be tested when the heat of battle reaches peak in the later in the game. We need big performances from the inspirational Peter O’Mahony, James Ryan and Conor Murray to fuel inspiration and, to be blunt, we need a big improvement from last week-end’s nightmare.
Interestingly, it appears the Joe Schmidt expects another bruising battle in the trenches and he has named only three backliners on the bench, Carbery, Larmour and Cooney.
IRELAND Squad v Scotland – 2019 Guinness Six Nations
Player/Club/Province/Caps –
15. Rob Kearney (Leinster/UCD) 87 caps
14. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 73
13. Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 3 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 13
11. Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 15
10. Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 79 (vc)
9. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 68
1. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 85
2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 114 (c)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 29
4. Quinn Roux (Galwegians/Connacht) 9
5. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 14
6. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 53 (vc)
7. Sean O’Brien (Leinster/UCD) 53
8. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 11 caps
Replacements
16. Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 66
17. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 25
18. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 12
19. Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 11 caps
20. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 14 caps
21. John Cooney (Ulster/Terenure College) 5
22. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 17
23. Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 10

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