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10th Mar 2024

The changes Ireland should make for their Six Nations decider against Scotland

Patrick McCarry


Ireland will be keen to finish on a high.

Andy Farrell’s Ireland team went into their Six Nations clash with England having lost just three times in their previous 34 games. You can make that four in 35 now.

Steve Borthwick’s side did all the big things they had to – play with pace and attacking intent, cut down the handling errors, force penalties and go after the Irish scrum and lineout – and were duly rewarded with a 23-22 victory that keeps them in the championship hunt. They are four points behind Ireland, with Scotland and France a point back.

Ireland have such a superior points difference that a losing bonus point would probably be enough for them to retain their title, next Saturday. They will be targeting a win over Scotland, though, and will be keen to capture another title in emphatic style. Andy Farrell is on his Lions sabbatical for the 2025 Six Nations so he will be desperate to leave this Ireland team with back-to-back titles.

Calvin Nash and Ciáran Frawley both went off, against England, after taking blows to the head. Both will be going through Return to Play protocols but could yet be in contention to face the Scots. Our Ireland team to see out the championship has one change to the starting XV, with two more on the bench.


Tweaks not major changes to the Ireland team

In terms of Calvin Nash and Ciáran Frawley, if they go through their RTP protocols and are cleared to play, both should be involved. Nash shipped a huge blow so is the greater doubt. If the Munster winger misses out, Jordan Larmour is a good shout to come in.

Our big starting XV change is bringing in Garry Ringrose for Robbie Henshaw. The Leinster centre offers more in attack for the Irish backline. Robbie Henshaw is in decent form but Ringrose is the superior player, in my eyes. Henshaw can cover the backline in a more rounded 5:3 bench split, with Iain Henderson dropping out of the 23.

Our other bench tweak sees Oli Jager coming in for Finlay Bealham, as it would be nice to see him get more Test minutes ahead of the summer tour to South Africa. If Frawley is ruled out, it would be tempting to bring Ross Byrne back. I would, but I suspect Andy Farrell would go with Harry Byrne.

Peter O’Mahony is fortunate to keep his starting spot after a poor outing against England. This could yet be O’Mahony’s final Six Nations game and Ireland’s back row are a well-rounded unit when their captain is on form. He keeps out Ryan Baird, for now.


15. Hugo Keenan
14. Calvin Nash/Jordan Larmour
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Bundee Aki
11. James Lowe
10. Jack Crowley
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Andrew Porter
2. Dan Sheehan
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Joe McCarthy
5. Tadhg Beirne
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Caelan Doris

Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Oli Jager, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Ciarán Frawley/Harry Byrne, Robbie Henshaw.

Andy Farrell will name his Ireland team this Thursday afternoon (March 14).