Sunday, 22 April, 2018

Furlong and Henderson set to lose Ireland fitness race

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will announce his team to face Wales on Thursday Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will announce his team to face Wales on Thursday
Kristopher Love | 23 February, 2018, 02:17

A comparable between Gatland, Henry and Steve Hansen, all of whom have coached Wales at some point in their careers, is that the rounded up percentages see Henry (59% win rate) first, Hansen (53%) second and Gatland (51%) third; the latter though has an impressive 69 per cent win rate in Six Nations Championship matches.

That will see the inexperienced trio of Andrew Porter, James Ryan and Chris Farrell, with a combined 11 appearances between them, come into the side as Ireland look to continue their unbeaten start to the championship.

"You don't suddenly replace world-class players".

Furlong and Henderson are both nursing hamstring issues, leaving rookie Leinster duo Ryan and Porter tasked with shoring up the hosts' scrum.

Porter, the 22-year-old prop, and 24-year-old centre Farrell have been brought in to replace injured Leinster duo Tadhg Furlong and Robbie Henshaw by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, who has made five changes from their 56-19 win over Italy.

"It is the first week we have had everyone in the "green" in terms of availability, which is a nice luxury to have and a positive ahead of what is a very important Test match against a very good Ireland side".

Tadhg Furlong has failed to fully recover from the hamstring strain he suffered against Italy
Tadhg Furlong has failed to fully recover from the hamstring strain he suffered against Italy

"I think if anyone tried to analyse what we do do, there is a lot of variety in what we do, and I think that the times that we've not quite managed to get the result against Wales, we've probably had as much of the game as they have, and we haven't quite been able to put the game away. So yes that's not ideal, but at the same time, if you want to learn, what better environment than a really white-hot atmosphere in the Aviva on Saturday".

We also won against Ireland at home past year.

"We're going to have to demonstrate that we have a strength of squad and we are excited at the prospect of doing that", said Joe Schmidt.

"There are always going to be scenarios that come up that you'd like to think you'd be prepared for, but you don't know how you're going to cope". But the progress just stalled a little bit.

Healy partners captain Rory Best and Porter in the front row for his 76th cap and says the injuries to Furlong and Henderson will cause no disruption to the pack.

"And then there's the freak show that is James Ryan, he keeps producing and that's exciting as well, to have his energy behind you in the scrum is brilliant".