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Joe Schmidt hits back after axing Stuart McCloskey

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has rejected claims he is unwilling to give inexperienced players a chance after naming his side to face Italy tomorrow (1.30pm).

After winning his first cap against England last time out, Stuart McCloskey finds himself out of the match-day squad while there is also no place in the 23 for his Ulster team-mate Paddy Jackson.

While the inclusion of Jared Payne at centre rather than full-back has been seen by some as a conservative selection, the man who guided Ireland to back-to-back Six Nations says there is little room for experimentation in a game his side "have to win".

"In my two and a half years we've used 66 players and 21 of them were uncapped," said Schmidt.

"It would be great to give some of the youth an opportunity this weekend. But, we've tried to do that throughout the tournament in different games but also with some experience around them."

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