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Joe Schmidt set to rest Rory Best for Ireland's Japan showdown

Rory Best impressed in Ireland's opening game against Scotland.
Rory Best impressed in Ireland's opening game against Scotland.
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Joe Schmidt says he intends to freshen up his team to face Japan on Saturday, with captain Rory Best among those set to be given a rest against the hosts.

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After an excellent performance against Scotland in their 27-3 victory on Sunday, the Ulsterman is likely to sit out the pool game in Shizuoka.

Even though Robbie Henshaw remains highly unlikely to face Japan, a union spokesman said Keith Earls, Joey Carbery and Rob Kearney are scheduled to train this week, while Peter O'Mahony and Bundee Aki are on schedule to come through the concussion protocols in time.

Although he received treatment on his groin during the win over Scotland, the official line on Johnny Sexton is that he suffered a bang to the thigh and will be fine, while Tadhg Furlong's substitution was tactical.

Whether they'll be risked against Japan remains to be seen. Schmidt admitted that the comprehensive win has given him some wiggle room.

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"We always have a plan but never one plan," Schmidt said. "We say, 'If this player doesn't play this week, he might play that week' and try and balance things up.

"If we didn't get the better of Scotland, we were under pressure and we were going to have to try to put together the most cohesive side we could.

"We feel that we've got to make sure that we're very, very good on Saturday but at the same time, we do feel that we can bring in a few fresh people and not lose the kind of cohesion we've been trying to build since we got together in mid to late June."

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