Predicting Ireland's team to face Scotland

Predicting Ireland's team to face Scotland

Joe Schmidt heads into his opening 2019 Rugby World Cup match with Scotland with a number of his front line backs under an injury cloud.

However, the New Zealander does have a full stocked pack of forwards who should be raring to go against the Scots.

Rob Kearney is in a race against time to prove his fitness while there is still doubt around the likes of Keith Earls and Joey Carbery with Robbie Henshaw all but ruled out of the clash.

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With all this in mind, we have predicted how Ireland could line up.

The Pack (1-8): Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tadgh Furlong, James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander.

Schmidt is likely to stick with starting props Healy and Furlong despite the impacts Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan and Andrew Porter made during the final warm-up games.

James Ryan would have been penned in for start in the opening World Cup game for about the last two years while there will be interesting call between Beirne, Kleyn and Henderson for the second lock.

Kleyn started all but one of Ireland's warm-up games, however, we predict that Schmidt will go back to the starting combination of Ryan and Henderson.

Schmidt did mix and match his back row during the warm-up matches with Stander featuring at blindside, O'Mahony at openside and Tadhg Beirne also getting start.

However, the first Rugby World Cup match could see the return of a more familiar back row in O'Mahony, van der Flier and Stander with Jack Conan missing out.

Backs (9-15): Conor Murray, Jonathan Sexton, Jacob Stockdale, Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose, Andrew Conway, Jordan Larmour

The halfback pairing picks itself as Schmidt will likely turn to his most trusted and experienced pairing of Murray and Sexton.

In the centres, Aki and Ringrose are likely to rekindle their pairing that has proved quite effective despite Chris Farrell filling the #13 jersey during the warm-ups.

Ringrose was used off the bench often during the warm-ups, in order to cover multiple positions and test him in those roles, but he will most likely return to the starting XV, especially considering the absence of Robbie Henshaw.

Jacob Stockdale scored a brace in the first test against Wales before he was taken off at half time, so he should be fit and firing for the Scotland test.

Keith Earls and Rob Kearney are fit to start they will most likely replace Conway and Larmour respectively. If the pair are not fit both Larmour and Conway can cover wing and fullback.

We have pencilled Larmour in at fullback but in reality either could fill the rule, it is likely that Larmour will start if one of Earls or Kearney is fit despite Conway showing some stellar form in the warm-ups.

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