Gibson-Park likely to keep Murray out of Ireland XV for Murrayfield trip

Possible changes in frontrow could see Cian Healy and Rob Herring return

Jamison Gibson-Park in action for Ireland against Italy during the Guinness Six Nations game at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Jamison Gibson-Park in action for Ireland against Italy during the Guinness Six Nations game at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Your Web Browser may be out of date. If you are using Internet Explorer 9, 10 or 11 our Audio player will not work properly.
For a better experience use Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

 

Barring any last-minute hitches akin to the troubled last 24 hours before the team announcement against France in round two, Andy Farrell and his coaching ticket have a strong hand to pick from for Sunday’s game away to Scotland (kick-off 3pm).

For example, Jamison Gibson-Park being retained ahead of the fit-again Conor Murray would seemingly be one of a number of difficult calls. The starting XV and replacements will be announced around noon on Friday and the signs are that Farrell and co will stick with Gibson-Park for his third start in succession.

Murray was withdrawn from the starting line-up to play France shortly before the team was announced due to the hamstring problem which also ruled him out of the 48-10 win over Italy in Rome a fortnight ago.

The coaching staff made seven changes in personnel and one positional switch for the game in the Stadio Olimpico, partly due to some key men returning, such as captain Johnny Sexton and James Ryan.

But Farrell also said it was partly due to a need to afford some players game time, and it seems likely that there might be a continuing element of rotation again, especially in the frontrow.

This could well see Cian Healy returning at loosehead and Dave Kilcoyne reverting to the bench, even though the latter went well in what was only his second Six Nations start. Similarly, and with a less than promising weather forecast underlining the importance of the set-piece, it may be that Rob Herring will also be reinstated at hooker with Rónan Kelleher among the replacements.

It remains to be seen if this dual change will detract from the ball-carrying which helped to repeatedly present the Irish backs with a fairly steady stream of go-forward ball from the outset in Rome. Either way though, Ireland are sure to have plenty of impact from their frontrow replacements, not to mention Ryan Baird and Jack Conan, given an otherwise unchanged pack.

Once again it will be another tight call between Jordan Larmour and Keith Earls, and mindful of the potentially inclement Edinburgh weather, it may be that the latter’s greater experience will be employed from the off.

Despite Jacob Stockdale’s return to fitness and recall to the squad, it would be a surprise if the coaches do not persist with the investment in James Lowe, not least given how important his long-distance kicking might be. In which case, Stockdale may miss out on the ‘23’ altogether.

IRELAND (possible v Scotland): Hugo Keenan; Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, James Ryan; Tadhg Beirne, Will Connors, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Billy Burns, Jordan Larmour.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.