Andy Farrell insisted continuity in Ireland team selection would not come at the expense of creativity as he kept changes to a minimum for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations second-round visit of Wales to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
Don’t mention the war? It would be nice not to have to but Ireland’s Six Nations opener takes place in the engorging shadow of last autumn’s ill-starred Asian campaign. Yes, we won’t be forgetting the debacle in Vietnam – sorry, I mean Japan – any time soon. The horror, the horror remains fresh in the memory.
As shakedown games go, this one ended up being a little more shaky than Ireland might have expected. The final score said 19-12 to Ireland but that didn’t really tell the story of the game so much as gesture vaguely in the direction of the side that took their chances with more efficiency, writes
There are two debutants today and they both happen to be No 8s – but whereas Caelan Doris has come through that well-established development pathway of Blackrock College, the Leinster Academy and the Leinster senior side, Scotland’s new face is a bolter from the blue.
For all the elements that make up this brave new world for Andy Farrell and the Ireland team as they head into the 2020 Guinness Six Nations, it is one of the fundamental lessons from the disappointments of 2019 that will register the strongest on matchday one.