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The much-changed Ireland team we want to see against Scotland in the Six Nations



Ireland know a Grand Slam success could be just two wins away but will be equally aware of the challenge that remains.

A trip to face Scotland – who are much improved – is the first of two hurdles between Ireland and a first Six Nations title success in five years.

Ireland pinched victory by just three points in the equivalent fixture two years ago, and know repeating that feat will be tougher again in front of a vociferous Scottish support.

Ireland know a Grand Slam success could be just two wins away but will be equally aware of the challenge that remains. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

However, multiple key men look to have put injury issues behind them ahead of Sunday’s assignment, some of whom are yet to feature in the tournament thus far.

Andy Farrell experimented somewhat against Italy but should revert to type against their fellow title contenders.

Here is the Ireland team we want to see against Scotland:

Ireland’s Josh van der Flier dives in to score his sides third try during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Picture date: Saturday March 19, 2022. Pic: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The back three picks itself with Hugo Keenan – arguably the best fullback in world rugby at the moment – a must to claim his No15 shirt.

James Lowe is a lethal finisher while Mack Hansen returned to form against Italy, claiming the Player of the Match award.

There is cause for debate in the centre with Garry Ringrose dealing with a setback, but he is reportedly set to be fit and should start if that is the case. His dynamism was missed in Rome.

11 February 2023; Garry Ringrose, right, and Bundee Aki of Ireland during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Pic: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Meanwhile, Bundee Aki had some fine moments against Italy and Robbie Henshaw has also returned to fitness.

Both will eye up a starting role, but Stuart McCloskey has hardly put a foot wrong and deserves to continue at inside centre.

Ross Byrne and Craig Casey did a good job away to Italy, but expect the former to drop to the bench with the latter facing the prospect of missing out altogether.

Stuart McCloskey of Ireland in action against Jac Morgan of Wales during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Wales and Ireland at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Pic: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Captain Johnny Sexton should come back in, and link-up with Jamison Gibson-Park – who was first-choice going into this event and should be backed if ready to go. Conor Murray must settle for the bench.

There should be further changes in the front-row, although Andrew Porter is the best option for loosehead prop.

Ronan Kelleher is returning to form, but Dan Sheehan should be restored to a starting role as the outstanding hooker in the game right now.

Ireland v South Africa
Jamison Gibson-Park could return from injury. Pic: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Meanwhile, the injury loss of Finlay Bealham is a blow but Tom O’Toole has impressed from the replacements bench. However, Tadhg Furlong is more than worthy of a start if fit.

There is a fair argument to start Ryan Baird in the engine room alongside James Ryan. But Iain Henderson is a fine lineout caller and would bring some welcome experience to the Irish pack.

Ireland have their best back-row available with Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris bringing a balance that could really benefit the visitors.

ireland team
Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony should be among the starters. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland team we want vs Scotland

(15-9) Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Stuart McCloskey, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton, Jamison Gibson-Park.

(1-8) Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.


Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Tom O’Toole, Ryan Baird, Gavin Coombes, Conor Murray, Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw.

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