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Schmidt with no plans to replace Earls in build-up to Fiji encounter

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will not call up a replacement for injured wing Keith Earls who has been ruled out of the November series.

The Munster man injured a hamstring during training on Tuesday of last week, leaving Schmidt without a tried and trusted campaigner in a position where he has already lost a considerable amount of experience this month.

While Earls' Thomond Park team-mate Simon Zebo is on the outside looking in after opting for a move to France at season's end, neither Andrew Trimble or Tommy Bowe were selected for this autumn.

After seeing Jacob Stockdale and Andrew Conway both score in the 38-3 thumping of South Africa though, as well as handing Darren Sweetnam a debut off the bench, Schmidt is content to get a closer look at the men presumed to be the future of Irish wing play when he names his sides for Fiji and Argentina.

"At this stage we're probably not going to go for a replacement for Keith Earls.

"We probably want to optimise the opportunity for the younger wingers to play.

"I thought Andrew Conway was super, the amount of energy.

"It would be great to offer more opportunity there.

"It looks like all those guys are okay."

For what was an attritional Test match, Ireland emerged from the win over a sorry Springboks with a largely clean bill of health.

While Jack McGrath missed out on selection with a hip knock that had him limited in training last week, and Jack Conan was also absent after sitting out some of the preparation, flanker Peter O'Mahony was Schmidt's main concern coming from the weekend.

Even still, there are expected to be plenty of changes for this weekend's visit from Fiji.

"Peter O'Mahony got a bit of a whack and his ear was torn," added Schmidt. "It was just a bit of blood mostly. We'll see how he recovers, but everyone else came through okay.

"(Fiji is) a chance to mix the team up and offer a little bit more opportunity."

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