O’Donnell call-up only Ireland change

Tommy O'Donnell (left) and Conor Murray

Tommy O’Donnell (left) will join his Munster colleague Conor Murray in the Ireland team

Flanker Tommy O’Donnell replaces Josh van der Flier in Ireland’s only change from the win over Italy for Saturday’s Six Nations game against Scotland.

Captain Rory Best has shaken off a calf muscle injury and will start.

Coach Joe Schmidt said that Van der Flier took a “bang” in training on Monday after “shipping a couple of knocks” in the England and Italy games.

“Josh would probably be fit to play but he is just carrying a few knocks,” said the Ireland coach.

“Conversely, Tommy has trained incredibly well.

“He hasn’t had the luckiest of preparations with us in previous times,” said Schmidt of O’Donnell who will be winning his 12th cap on Saturday.


O’Donnell missed out on last Autumn’s World Cup in heartbreaking fashion after sustaining a dislocated hip in the warm-up game against Wales in August.

However, the Munster flanker, 28, battled back to feature in Ireland’s opening Six Nations games against Wales and France.

Best, 33, was reported to have a tight calf on Tuesday but the hooker was able to resume training on Thursday.

An Ireland win will move the holders above Scotland in the table and ensure they finish no lower than fourth.

In theory, a home victory in Dublin could see the holders finishing runners-up in the championship on points difference but that would require struggling Italy earning a shock win in Cardiff and England completing the Grand Slam by triumphing in Paris.

If results go to form with Wales seeing off the Italians and England victorious at the Stade de France, a home win at the Aviva Stadium will leave Ireland third in the table.

Simon Zebo’s impressive attacking display in last weekend’s nine-try 58-15 win over Italy meant that his retention at full-back was not in any doubt with Rob Kearney again ruled out by injury.

Eoin Reddan and Cian Healy, who both missed the Italy game, return to the bench in place of Connacht pair Kieran Marmion and Finlay Bealham after resuming training this week.

Prop Healy was ruled out against Italy with a hamstring issue while scrum-half Reddan was sidelined with a calf problem.

Ireland: S Zebo, A Trimble, J Payne, R Henshaw, K Earls, J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best (capt), M Ross; D Ryan, D Toner; CJ Stander, T O’Donnell, J Heaslip.

Replacements: R Strauss, C Healy, N White, U Dillane, R Ruddock, E Reddan, I Madigan, F McFadden.


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