Six Nations 2018: Ireland’s Furlong and Ringrose to start against Scotland

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Ireland's Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson
Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson resumed training this week after missing the win over Wales

Tadhg Furlong and Garry Ringrose have been drafted into Ireland’s Six Nations team to face Scotland on Saturday.

Fit-again tight-head prop Furlong returns to replace Andrew Porter, with Ringrose coming in at centre for the injured Chris Farrell.

Ulster lock Iain Henderson returns as a replacement as James Ryan and Devin Toner remain in the starting line-up.

Ireland are the only team still with Grand Slam ambitions after Scotland’s win over England at Murrayfield.

Furlong and Henderson missed the Wales game because of hamstring injuries but the British and Irish Lions duo both returned to full training this week.

Ryan impressed in the last-gasp win over France as he started in the second row alongside Henderson, but his minor groin strain led to Toner’s inclusion for the game against Italy.

The giant Leinster lock remained in the team for the win over Wales as the Ulsterman missed out.

Explaining his second-row selection, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said that his desire for “continuity” from the Wales game convinced him to retain Toner and Ryan despite Henderson’s return to fitness.

“It is just a case of trying to keep a balance,” said Schmidt. “It also adds a bit of our last 20 or 30 minutes of the game, where an athlete like Iain can come on.”

Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose in Ireland training on Thursday morning
Garry Ringrose will be Bundee Aki’s third centre partner for Ireland in this season’s Six Nations

Ireland’s centre options reduced by injuries

Munster’s Farrell was drafted in for the Wales game after Robbie Henshaw suffered a shoulder injury in the win over Italy.

However, county Tyrone-born Farrell then suffered a season-ending knee injury in training last week, which made Ringrose’s inclusion for this weekend’s game almost a certainty.

Ringrose, who won 11 caps, missed the November internationals after undergoing shoulder surgery last July and a further ankle injury sustained on Leinster duty in January ruled him out of the opening two Six Nations games.

Schmidt conceded that the 23-year-old’s selection was “needs-must” given the team’s injury problems, with Jared Payne still unavailable because of persistent headaches.

“There’s always concerns about players for different reasons, and Garry’s only had six games in this entire season,” Schmidt said.

“That’s something you calculate in but sometimes you don’t have the luxury of a plethora of options.

“Garry’s been extraordinary when he has played for us.”

Ireland’s replacements bench has four changes as Henderson, Porter, Jordan Larmour and Jordi Murphy take over from Quinn Roux, John Ryan, Fergus McFadden and Jack Conan.

Listen to coverage of Saturday’s game live from 14:00 GMT, on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Scotland.

Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best (capt), Furlong; Ryan, Toner; O’Mahony, Leavy, Stander.

Replacements: Cronin, McGrath, Porter, Henderson, Murphy, Marmion, Carbery, Larmour.

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