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Ireland team: Injured trio miss out as Conway and Larmour start World Cup opener against Scotland

 

Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Keith Earls, Rob Kearney and Joey Carbery were all absent as Ireland named their team this morning to face Scotland in their World Cup opener on Sunday.

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Despite an optimistic prognosis offered earlier in the week, none of the trio have made the matchday 23, meaning inclusions for Andrew Conway, Jordan Larmour and, on the bench, Jack Carty.

Leinster's Larmour will get the nod at full-back, meaning Conway is on the wing. With Robbie Henshaw already ruled out and his place taken by Garry Ringrose in a line-up that also includes Bundee Aki and Ulster's Jacob Stockdale, it means that all of Ireland's outside backs in the game will be making their World Cup debuts.

There is plenty of familiarity at half-back, however, where the first-choice combination of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton link up once again.

Up front, it's coach Joe Schmidt's first choice pack with Rory Best leading the side as captain in his final World Cup and Iain Henderson winning his 49th cap in the second-row, where he is also expected to have responsibility for the lineout.

CJ Stander has seen off Jack Conan's challenge to start at No.8 in the back-row alongside Peter O'Mahony and Josh van der Flier.

There's a real powerful look to the bench where Tadhg Beirne and Conan have got the nod and Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter and Niall Scannell provide the front row cover, while the number 23 jersey will be occupied by Fivemiletown native Chris Farrell, with Luke McGrath the final substitute.

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Ireland had insisted during the week that Earls and Kearney could play a part in this weekend's match and, even after leaving the duo out of his panel, Schmidt said it wasn't an easy decision.

"You'll see Joey will run fully in the warm-up as a reserve back," he said. "He's trained really well this week. Keith Earls was the sharpest player at training on Wednesday. He was very, very sharp. He's good. Rob Kearney trained well as well.

"It was really just that we were getting very tight for time and the best continuity we had, we felt, was to have the guys who trained throughout the time we've been here.

"It's exciting to have the back three that we've got. It's a great opportunity and a fantastic challenge for them. We just felt that for continuity's sake we would also show the amount of faith we have in the squad.

"(Conway and Larmour)'s enthusiasm is something that's contagious. Andrew has proved he has real aerial ability and that will be useful for us. I still have the vision in my mind clearly of Jordan Larmour beating Israel Folau to the ball in the third test of our Australian tour last year so he's very good there as well. Jacob (Stockdale), of course, is a big man in the backfield. They're all feeding off each other and very keen to impress. They've now got that opportunity.

"Up front there were some tight decisions as well. We've been really happy with some of the guys that have come off the bench for us. Whether a player starts or comes off the bench, they're every bit as important to us because you know that in the last quarter of the match, if the teams are close that's pivotal. We need the right players coming off the bench doing the right job.

"Across the board, I think we're happy with the starting XV and the bench and we'd be happy to supplant some of those guys with the guys who aren't there but that's what you've got to be confident of when you've got a squad of 31, you've got to be confident of all 31."

The ever-changing weather forecast now seems to show the heavy rain will miss the game but replacement prop Dave Kilcoyne believes the side's week in Japan has them well primed for whatever comes their way.

"The last time we were over here we played Japan twice and it seemed to be probably hotter than it is now," explained Kilcoyne.

"We're adjusting well. There was rain some days and on other days it's been roasting hot, so it's just about getting rid of all the jet lag and just getting used to the conditions over here.

"It's definitely warmer than we're used to, the ball is probably a bit greasier so it's just about getting used to it."

Ireland team to face Scotland

(15-9): J Larmour, A Conway, G Ringrose, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray

(1-8): C Healy, R Best (c), T Furlong; I Henderson, J Ryan; P O'Mahony, J van der Flier, CJ Stander

Replacements: N Scannell, D Kilcoyne, A Porter, T Beirne, J Conan, L McGrath, J Carty, C Farrell.

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