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Schmidt praises debutant Scannell after Ireland build big win from solid start

The Munster man got a late call to face Italy as Rory Best was unable to play.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Joe Schmidt praised debutant hooker Niall Scannell in the wake of Ireland’s bonus point Six Nations win over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico.

The 24-year-old Munster hooker had to step in to the number two shirt at short notice as a stomach bug kept captain Rory Best from training yesterday.

On his first cap, Scannell provided solidity in both set-pieces and that aided Ireland’s early onslaught, which would eventually lead to a nine-try trouncing.

“I thought he scrummed really well and we got a good line-out platform. The guys around him supported him really well,” Schmidt told RTE Sport post-match, after pointing out the importance of this week’s start after the sluggish opening 30 minutes in Murrayfield.

“We showed that we can start well. it gives you a platform to build on,” said the Kiwi.

“I think the players felt that (a statement was needed). As coaches, we know how good they can be. It’s probably a bit of confidence for them to go out and do it.

“There were guys making their Test debut and Six Nations debut and it’s great for them to get a performance under the belt.”

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Sean Farrell

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