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Schmidt springs an Irish surprise

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Joe Schmidt makes a surprise selection at fullback for Ireland

Joe Schmidt has named his Irish side to take on Scotland in their opening World Cup match and there’s just one major surprise.

Rob Kearney’s injury has allowed for the selection of Andrew Conway on the wing. Conway, although initially expected to come into the side at fullback, will be playing in the biggest match of his international career to date. Jordan Larmour, a regular on the wing, will shift to the back – a position he’s more than comfortable with.

Robbie Henshaw’s predicted injury-enforced absence means that Gary Ringrose will start in the midfield. He will resume his partnership with Bundee Aki – a combination which was used in Ireland’s recent warm-up defeat to England.

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The other changes from the most recent Irish side see Iain Henderson slot into the second row in the place of Jean Kleyn and Peter O’Mahony take over on the blindside flank. O’Mahony’s return means Jack Conan drops to the bench with CJ Stander switching from the flank to number 8.

Ireland kicking coach, Richie Murphy, has spoken at length regarding how the weather conditions could influence the match.

“The weather’s changing. It’s very hard to know and we’ll just have to keep an eye on it. Two days ago, it looked like it was going to be the worst rain shower we’ve ever seen. Now, it’s saying it will be dry,” said Murphy.

“Everyone wants dry weather, no one wants to play in the rain. World Cups are all about adapting, whether that’s in the team or the conditions or how a referee interprets a rule. You have to adapt all the time.”

Stander, who has moved back to his preferred position at the back of the scrum, is adamant that Ireland’s arduous warm-up schedule has set them up for a successful tournament.

“Yeah, I think we had an unbelievable pre-season – some good warm-up games to learn where we are and what we need to do. We’re training very well. We’ve got a great squad and we’re in a good place.”

Ireland’s match with Scotland will kick off at 4:45PM (JST) on Sunday afternoon at Yokohama Stadium, the same location as tomorrow’s fixture between New Zealand and South Africa.

Ireland: Andrew Conway, Jordan Larmour, Gary Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jonathan Sexton, Connor Murray, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Peter O’Mahony, James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best, Cian Healy. Res: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Tadgh Beirne, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Jack Carty, Chris Farrell.

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Joe Schmidt makes a surprise selection at fullback for Ireland