Ireland's head coach Joe Schmidt has urged several of his fringe players to seize their opportunities and solidify their positions in the team by creating some healthy competition for the players out injured ahead of their Six Nations clash against England.
Mike McCarthy, Sean O’Brien and Dave Kearney, are the latest casualties in the Ireland camp after a bruising 10-9 defeat to France in Paris. McCarthy is set to miss the rest of the season following a serious concussion while O’Brien and Kearney are being assessed on a hamstring and shoulder injury respectively.
Ireland have an incredible 15 players who are out injured or doubtful for the rest of their Six Nations campaign. Forever the optimist, Schmidt sees this as an opportunity for fringe players to prove their worth. Players such as Stuart McCloskey, Fergus McFadden and Ultan Dillane all have a real opportunity to step up to the plate.
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The Irish boss told RTÉ Sport: "We’re going to be shorn of Mike McCarthy, I don’t think he’ll be back for us for the Six Nations. We’ve lost Dave Kearney and Seán O’Brien so there was certainly a toll from last week.”
Schmidt is currently training his senior squad alongside the Under 20s side. Undoubtedly, he is hoping to integrate several youngsters into the senior squad ahead of the England game next weekend. The boss is expecting an intense test against England, as they have shown that they are certainly one of the most physical sides in the tournament thus far. Yet Schmidt insists his side need no motivation to bring their A-game against The Three Lions.
England will certainly be favourites after picking up two wins in their opening two games, and following two bruising encounters for Ireland, it will be difficult to see the Irish picking themselves up in time for this encounter.
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