Dan Sheridan/INPHO

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.

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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WATCH: Enjoy all nine tries again as Ireland put pitiful Italy to the sword

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