Joe Schmidt: Ireland can't suddenly replace three British & Irish Lions

Feb 23, 2018, 02:17
Joe Schmidt: Ireland can't suddenly replace three British & Irish Lions

But the 22-year-old has already shown signs that where Furlong steamrollers, he can follow.

Replacements: Dee, Jones, Francis, Davies, Tipuric, Davies, Anscombe, North.

Ireland's coach Joe Schmidt will reach a notable landmark of his own as he takes charge of the national side for the 53rd time, moving into joint second place on the all-time Irish coaches list, sharing the exact figure Declan Kidney reached during his tenure between 2008 and 2013, both someway behind Eddie O'Sullivan (76).

"Iain (Henderson) was definitely the closer of the two".

Leinster Rugby's Andrew Porter and Munster Rugby's Chris Farrell are set for their first Six Nations Championship starts on Saturday after being selected for Ireland's match with Wales at the Aviva Stadium.

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In all, five Munster players have been selected to start the game against Warren Gatland's Welsh side.

"Round three represents the first real test of the depth of the Irish squad".

"The form book says Ireland should win at home, but Wales will be hungry for success and smarting after their Twickenham "try or no-try" encounter".

"It's a nice honour but it's just something to reflect back on. That's more important than me reaching 100 games".

But he says they did not want to risk the lock given what's still to come in the Six Nations.

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Although there were positives noises from inside the camp over the last 10 days over the progress made by Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson, both players have lost their race to be fit for Wales, while a third Lion in Robbie Henshaw is also sidelined with the dislocated shoulder he sustained against Italy a fortnight ago.

However, if he also loses his battle for fitness for the same reason as Furlong, having similarly failed to train fully on Tuesday, it would mean Ireland will field a second-row partnership of fit-again James Ryan with Devin Toner.

Ireland have won 12 of their last 14 matches, including the last nine in a row.

Only captain Rory Best remains in place in the frontrow, with the rotation policy at loosehead continuing.

Gatland was forwards coach on the Lions tour to South Africa in 2009 and then head coach for the 2-1 series win over Australia (2013) and the 1-1 draw with New Zealand (2017), racking up a further six Tests to add to his overall tally.

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