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Roux set to start as Ireland's injury worries mount ahead of Six Nations clash with Scotland

Key role: Ireland ace Quinn Roux is set to start against Scotland at Murrayfield after a number of injuries
Key role: Ireland ace Quinn Roux is set to start against Scotland at Murrayfield after a number of injuries

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

The man who came in from the cold is now a central figure on Ireland's road to redemption.

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Not selected in Joe Schmidt's initial 38-man squad, Quinn Roux is set to start at Murrayfield on Saturday and call the lineouts in Devin Toner's absence.

It is the biggest start since his debut against the country of his birth, South Africa, in the second Test in Johannesburg in June 2016 when he put in a good 50-minute shift before being replaced by Donnacha Ryan.

That day, he had Toner alongside him and Iain Henderson in the back-row to help with the lineout, whereas on Saturday he is the senior man in the set-piece.

He'll have James Ryan and Peter O'Mahony for support, while Rory Best is an experienced thrower at No.2, but the challenge is clear.

Roux has been something of a project for Schmidt, more often in the panel than not over the past couple of years.

He waited a year for his second and third caps on the summer tour of the United States and Japan, while he came off the bench against Wales and Italy during the run to the Grand Slam and again against Australia last summer.

He won his fourth start against Italy in Chicago last November, before coming off the bench against the United States.

So, it was a mild surprise to see him left out of the squad for rounds one and two of the competition but Greg Feek said his Connacht team-mate Ultan Dillane simply fit the bill of what Schmidt was looking for.

Once Henderson and Tadhg Beirne were ruled out in the aftermath of the final round of Champions Cup pool matches, Roux was added to the training squad in the Algarve.

"It was just how it fitted for that week in the end, the trainings and how we looked at losing a couple of the guys - Hendy was late, so things like that get guys in," scrum coach Feek said of the decision to pick Dillane in the initial squad.

"Ultan, in terms of versatility in the lock role, little things like that come into play but it was a tough call. It was a tough call."

Despite the initial decision, the 28-year-old edged the bench selection for the clash with England and was brought on when Toner re-injured his ankle midway through the second half.

"Quinn did really well at the weekend, he came on and put a couple of big hits in," Feek added. "He's been leading the lineout in Connacht this year, he's progressed and matured as a player.

"He's been in our environment since the South Africa tour (2016). Good in the scrum, mauling, as a tight forward he ticks a lot of the boxes. Luckily for us, we have good depth there at the moment."

Schmidt has long been a fan of Roux's set-piece contribution.

Weighing in at more than 120kg, the lock is rated as a powerful scrummager but it will be his proficiency at lineout strategy that will be tested.

Having moved to Connacht in 2014 after two seasons with Leinster, Roux has quietly assembled 91 caps for the province and captained them earlier this season.

When Schmidt recruited him as a project player in 2012, it was with a view to him playing for Ireland and, while he has only collected nine caps since and is Ireland's fifth-choice lock, his time in and around the set-up has been preparing him for the day when he'd be needed to step up.

That day has arrived and the coach will be praying that the man from Pretoria can step in and step up to the required standard.

Otherwise, Ireland's supply lines out of touch could be in jeopardy.

Belfast Telegraph


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