Rugby World Cup 2019: Injuries force Ireland to make slew of changes ahead of tournament opener against Scotland

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said that he had complete faith in his new-look backline as the players were eager to impress and now have that opportunity

Agence France-Presse September 20, 2019 13:39:18 IST
Rugby World Cup 2019: Injuries force Ireland to make slew of changes ahead of tournament opener against Scotland
  • Rob Kearney and Keith Earls, who have more than 170 caps between them, had run out of time to prove full fitness, coach Joe Schmidt said

  • Larmour, Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki and Jacob Stockdale complete the starting backline outside regular halves

  • Larmour, who started on the wing when Ireland beat Wales 19-10 in their final warm-up match, has been moved to fullback while Conway,

Tokyo: Jordan Larmour and Andrew Conway were promoted to Ireland's starting line-up on Friday for their Rugby World Cup opener against Scotland after a frustrating week of backline injuries for the top-ranked side.

Rugby World Cup 2019 Injuries force Ireland to make slew of changes ahead of tournament opener against Scotland

Ireland players take part in a training session on the eve of their first match in the Rugby World Cup 2019. AFP

Rob Kearney and Keith Earls, who have more than 170 caps between them, had run out of time to prove full fitness, coach Joe Schmidt said, while Robbie Henshaw and Joey Carbery did not even enter the selection frame.

"The best continuity we had was the guys who trained throughout the time we were here," Schmidt said of his rearranged backline when naming his side for Sunday's Pool A game in Yokohama.

Larmour, Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki and Jacob Stockdale complete the starting backline outside regular halves, Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray.

Larmour, who started on the wing when Ireland beat Wales 19-10 in their final warm-up match two weeks ago, has been moved to fullback while Conway, who also has experience at 15, stays on the wing.

Schmidt said he had faith in his new-look backline who were "very, very keen to impress and now have that opportunity."

"Across the board, I think we are happy with the starting 15 and the bench."

In the forwards, Tadhg Furlong, captain Rory Best and Cian Healy — the most established front row of all 20 World Cup teams — will start together for the 14th time.

James Ryan and Iain Henderson occupy the second row while CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier and Peter O'Mahony make up the crucial back three.

"We know the breakdown is going to be hotly contested. There's going to be challenges for (referee) Wayne Barnes that's for sure," Schmidt said.

The Pool A fixture will be played a day after New Zealand and South Africa open Pool B on the same pitch but Schmidt doubted that would be a problem.

"Whatever the surface is we'll have to cope with it," he said.

"If it has been chewed up a bit by the All Blacks and Springboks, that's a pretty big game, some pretty big men running around, but one of the things that have impressed me is how quickly (ground staff) can turn round a manicured surface."

Ireland (15-1)

Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Peter O'Mahony; James Ryan, Iain Henderson; Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best (capt), Cian Healy

Replacements: Niall Scannell, David Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Jack Carty, Chris Farrell

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