Rugby Ireland set for wholesale changes as Schmidt looks for injection of energy

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IT WAS ALWAYS certain that Joe Schmidt would be making plenty of changes for Ireland’s clash with Russia in Kobe on Thursday, but the fresher faces now have an even greater onus on them to perform.

It’s their responsibility to get Ireland back on track after the biggest shock defeat of the Schmidt era. A World Cup quarter-final is still firmly on the cards if Schmidt’s side can win big against Russia and Samoa in their final two pool games.

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Ireland must bounce back swiftly from the dejection.

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While a bonus-point win over the Russians at the 30,132-capacity Kobe Misaki Stadium probably won’t tell us anything new about Ireland, it would bring at least a hint of momentum back into the squad after the confidence-damaging loss to Japan.

Given that the front five of Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, and James Ryan have started both games so far at this World Cup, the wholesale changes will begin in the tight five.

Schmidt has Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, and Sean Cronin to pick from in the front row for Thursday, while a second-row pairing of the as-yet-unused Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne seems rather likely.

Jordi Murphy joined the Ireland squad in Kobe today after being called up to replace Jack Conan

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