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'They're threats but we'll try to exploit them' - Scots on Larmour and Conway

Scotland feel they have a good grip on what to expect from Ireland.

JOE SCHMIDT WOULD naturally love to have Keith Earls and Rob Kearney, two of his most experienced players, available for Sunday’s World Cup clash with Scotland but both have been struggling with injury issues this week.

Scotland, for one, don’t expect Kearney and Earls to feature on Sunday. 

Instead, they have started preparing to face Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour, who are in line to start for Ireland if Schmidt rules out Kearney and Earls in naming his team at around 7.30am Irish time tomorrow.

jordan-larmour Jordan Larmour could start if Earls and Kearney are ruled out. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Kearney’s superb backfield cover would be missed, as it always is, while Earls’ strong decision-making and calm mindset would also be of value in such an important game for Ireland.

But Larmour and Conway have their own strengths to bring to the party if they do make Schmidt’s starting XV, with the former’s dazzling footwork making him a major danger, while the Munster man’s work-rate is huge and he still has the pace that made him a hotshot in his youth.

Scotland are well aware of those abilities but they will also see opportunities if Larmour and Conway do start. With rain and gusty winds expected, it will be a tough day for back three players.

“Those two are massive threats with ball-in-hand but we’ll try to exploit them in different avenues,” said Scotland centre Sam Johnson, who is expected to partner Duncan Taylor in midfield.

“We will be looking at a bit of film this week. Even though there are some really good players who are injury doubts, they would be replaced by Conway and Larmour, who are just as good.

“Especially with those two, if you give them a bit of time and space they will do a bit of damage. We will look at how we want to play the game tactically and eliminate that threat. We’ll see what happens.”

Scotland also seem to be anticipating that Garry Ringrose will line out at 13, particularly with Robbie Henshaw absent through injury, with Johnson picking out the Leinster man’s “agility around the pitch, being able to break the tackles.”

sam-johnson-scores-a-try-despite-joey-carbery Johnson scores against Ireland in the Six Nations. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Scots ducked out of their team hotel today to visit the sumo wrestling tournament that has been taking place in Tokyo this week, but they’ve mainly had their attention firmly fixed on Schmidt’s Ireland team. 

Familiarity has bred a heated rivalry between the two nations and it’s expected to be a feisty affair again at International Stadium Yokohama. The Scots haven’t had a good away record in recent times and they’re happy to be playing Ireland on neutral soil.

“Because they’re a home country, I’m probably a bit more familiar with the style of rugby they want to play,” said Johnson of Ireland. “It’s going to be a tough contest.

“With all these rankings, I don’t know how many number ones there were during the summer Tests, so you take that with a pinch of salt but we all know they are class operators.

“It does help that they are a home country and we’re now in a different country, a neutral venue. That evens the playing field a bit more.”

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Murray Kinsella

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