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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019

Schmidt opts for continuity as he names first starting XV of World Cup

The Ireland head coach says Joey Carbery, Rob Kearney and Keith Earls are all close to being fit to play.

Schmidt speaking at today's press conference in Yokohama.
Schmidt speaking at today's press conference in Yokohama.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

JOE SCHMIDT HAS delivered a positive injury update on Joey Carbery, Rob Kearney and Keith Earls, but none of the trio were deemed fit enough to be involved in Ireland’s World Cup opener against Scotland.

The Ireland head coach said Carbery ‘will run fully as the reserve back’ in the warm-up in Yokohama, but the Munster out-half has been held back after his recent ankle injury, while Earls and Kearney also miss out this weekend.

Earls, Schmidt said, was the ‘sharpest player at training on Wednesday’, while Kearney ‘also trained well’, but continuity was behind the decision to start with an exciting, if not inexperienced, back three of Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour.

“It was really just that we were getting tight for time,” Schmidt explained at today’s press conference in Yokohama. “The best continuity we had was to have the guys we’d had training through the time we’ve been here.

“It’s exciting to have the back three we’ve got as well. It’s a great opportunity and a fantastic challenge.”

On Conway and Larmour, who has worn the 15 jersey just twice at Test level, Schmidt added: “I think that their enthusiasm is something that’s contagious, their ability to get themselves into the game.

“Andrew has proven aerial ability and that will be really useful for us. I still have the vision very clearly in my mind of Jordan Larmour beating Israel Folau to a ball in the third Test in Sydney on our Australian tour last year.

“So he’s very good there as well, and of course Jacob is a big man in the backfield. They’re all feeding off each other, they are all very, very keen to impress.

“And now they have that opportunity.”

Elsewhere, it’s as expected in Schmidt’s starting XV with Garry Ringrose partnering Bundee Aki in midfield in Robbie Henshaw’s absence, while Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray are the half-backs.

jordan-larmour Larmour starts at fullback. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Up front, Iain Henderson will lead the lineout as the new Ulster captain packs down alongside James Ryan, with CJ Stander preferred to Jack Conan at number eight as he forms the back row combination with Peter O’Mahony and Josh van der Flier.

Now just 48 hours out from Ireland’s much-anticipated Pool A opener, Schmidt is hoping his side can peak at the right time.  

“You’ve just got to hope so, I can’t guarantee anything,” he continued. “In 48 hours’ time we’ll have a better idea.

“We’ll be just arriving in the stadium and getting ready to warm up, I’ll be anxious, and so will many others. Because you never quite know.

But one thing I’ll be really confident of is that we’ll be tough to beat. That in 48 hours’ time I think you’ll see a very collective effort, and that effort will make us tough to beat.

“I’ve no doubt that the Scots will have been working away and will make themselves something similar.

“I don’t think there’s a huge amount between the two teams, so whoever does get the bounce of the ball or just be a little more efficient than the other just may tip the balance.” 

Gavan Casey is joined by Andy Dunne and, from Japan, Murray Kinsella ahead of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup opener against Scotland.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Ryan Bailey

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