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No doubt every fan will be picking their ideal team right now, and also trying to second guess the Coach - in Ireland's case, Joe Schmidt. My take is that Schmidt is a conservative selector for crunch games and will go for: Kearney, Earls, Henshaw, Aki, Stockdale, Sexton, Murray, McGrath, Best, Furlong, Toner, Henderson, O'Mahony, Stander, V.d. Flier.

I would probably make at least one change and put in Larmour for Kearney even for the away match against France. Schmidt has said Larmour was picked ahead of Zebo on form, so why not put his money where his mouth is? If France can pick a 19 year old (Jalibert) and 21 year old (Belleau) at out half, why not Ireland?

But my real shock selection would be Conan instead of Stander. Stander hasn't been making as much ground recently because teams have prepared for his straight line hard running. He is a bit of a one trick pony, even if a very good one. Conan has better footwork and tends to bounce of the first contact and make better yardage as a result. His support running is outstanding and he also offers another line out option.

Other players unfortunate to miss out of first XV selection would be Healy, James Ryan, Leavy and Conway but it's great that we have a strong bench as well. Schmidt is more likely to experiment against Italy so I suspect some reshuffling of the deck at that stage.

Ireland must be strong favourites against France at this stage but we don't have a good track record in Paris. Hopefully Brunel's team won't find their mojo until later in the championship...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 29th, 2018 at 02:58:05 PM EST

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