Ireland's Furlong, Henderson miss out on Wales clash

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt on Thursday named the following team to face Wales in the Six Nations at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

They travel to Dublin having won twice and drawn once on their previous four visits and with England facing a potentially tricky fixture against Scotland in Murrayfield later in the day, Saturday's fixtures will go a long way towards determining the eventual tournament winners.

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Leinster prop Andrew Porter and Munster's Chris Farrell are preparing for first Six Nations starts. But you can't get any further ahead so it is nice to get another box ticked.

Asked later whether such questions annoyed or frustrated him when his side was creating the opportunities he suggested, Schmidt replied: "I am not even saying there is all this opportunity".

Owen Farrell and Jonny May have been typically influential for England, with the duo making more clean breaks than anyone else in this year's Six Nations and providing two try assists apiece.

"They are world class players, you don't suddenly replace world class players, but we're a lot more focused on who we do have. Chris has been a long-term project and he did well against Argentina in November".

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They were among five changes, three enforced by injuries, to the lineup which crushed Italy 56-19. Cian Healy replaces Jack McGrath at loosehead while C J Stander resumes at No 8 in place of Jack Conan.

Under Joe Schmidt, Ireland have beaten Wales only once in the Six Nations and had their title ambitions derailed in Cardiff past year but Best insisted there have been "fine margins" between the two rivals and he does not view Warren Gatland's side as Ireland's bogey team.

"Iain was the closer of the two; Iain could probably have played on Saturday", said Schmidt. For me, I always want to do a really good job and to make sure the girls are my priority.

"I texted him after the France game and said it was some kick, to be fair".

"Are we going to be able to test this Welsh defence, that is incredibly well drilled by Sean Edwards, who is a very shrewd, experienced operators in both codes (union and league), and he'll have come up with a plan he believes will stop Ireland?". The fine margins will determine the result.

Stringer who knows something about No9 play, being capped 98 times for Ireland, rates Murray as "an extremely talented guy and in the last couple of years he's done unbelievably well for Munster, Ireland and the Lions". And that will be our simple message before the game: that we have shown in the past that we want to scrummage straight and we do scrummage straight, and we scrum legally. "You've got to beat good teams on the road and win to have a chance in a World Cup".

  • Joanne Flowers