Rugby Analysis: Joe Schmidt’s first World Cup cut is tough on two men – but bodes well for a few others

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Joe Schmidt’s first cut came before the warm-up games had even started and, having briefly swelled to 45, the panel of players vying for places on the plane to Japan is down to 43.

Before returning to Munster and Connacht, they’ll have been told to stay fit and ready having banked a couple of months of pre-season with the squad. Both players know they’ll need a poor run of injuries to have a hope of travelling.

The centre and the second-row were both long-odds outsiders to make the final 31-man panel, but as long as you’re in you have a chance.

Ahead of Saturday’s opening warm-up fixture, the coach sent a reminder to his squad that this is a ruthless business and he won’t be shirking the big decisions.

There is no guarantee that all of the remaining 43 players will be capped in the next five-and-a-half weeks, with Schmidt set to continue his whittling-down progress.

Given the calibre of midfielders ahead of him in the pecking order, Scannell was always in an uphill battle having not played for Ireland since the summer of 2017.

Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose and Bundee Aki will all go if fit, with the versatile

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