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04th Mar 2019

CJ Stander and two other class players tipped for Ireland recall

Patrick McCarry

CJ Stander

Ireland could definitely do with the big man from George returning in super-quick time.

By 5pm on Sunday, Ireland should know more about their chances in the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.

Joe Schmidt’s men take on the French at Lansdowne Road on Sunday (from 3pm) but Wales and England may well have put them under severe pressure by winning their Saturday fixtures. England are heavily backed to deliver against Italy, while Wales have an away date with the underfiring, injury-hit Scots at Murrayfield.

One thing Ireland have going for them should be the return of a number of senior stars to the ranks. The squad assembles at Carton House on Monday evening and will be officially confirmed by the IRFU on Tuesday afternoon.

On Baz & Andrew’s House of Rugby [from 42:00 below] former Ireland internationals Andrew Trimble and Barry Murphy discussed a few big changes Schmidt could make for the visit of France.

(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)

“We need a massive points differential but we may also need the bonus points,” Trimble says. “They are going okay but there are one or two points of the pattern that are not clicking… I’d say they will keep playing Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton at 9 and 10.” Murphy notes:

“I wonder will they bring CJ Stander straight back in. Him being back already is obviously unbelievable after an eye socket or cheek fracture [against England]. I think Ireland will go with him if he is fit.

“Let CJ lump through work, as he does, and France will struggle with to deal with him and then Seanie O’Brien off the bench… could go with Josh van der Flier from the start.

“I’d be going with a team that is as close to that starting 15 against England, with maybe Garry Ringrose back in midfield… probably not Robbie Henshaw at 15 given how well Rob Kearney has done these last few weeks.”

Murphy adds, “Would you get Tadhg Beirne in there? I’d love to see someone robbing more ball; we’ve been poor off the ground… it’s a hugely important part of the game. Slowing teams down, winning penalties and i think with the lack of fitness France have…

“Beirne’s ball-carrying is excellent and that is the one thing we are missing at the moment – a guy that will get in there and slow the ball down. He is arguably the best in the northern hemisphere at doing it. Stick him in your team.”

Trimble would definitely bring in Iain Henderson to the Irish second row but is siding with James Ryan from the start, and concedes that Connacht’s Quinn Roux and Ultan Dillane would both, quite fairly, consider themselves unlucky to miss out after decent outings for Ireland recently.

The Ireland squad is named on Tuesday afternoon with the matchday 23 announced on Friday.