Andy Farrell’s three biggest selection calls

Simon Lewis identifies the three biggest talking points after new Ireland boss Any Farrell named his team to face Scotland on Saturday.

Andy Farrell’s three biggest selection calls

Simon Lewis identifies the three biggest talking points after new Ireland boss Any Farrell named his team to face Scotland on Saturday.

Retaining Conor Murray

The new head coach has not shied away from making big calls since taking the reins from Joe Schmidt but resisting the clamour for John Cooney to start at scrum-half is perhaps the biggest.

Cooney’s electric form and ability to score tries for Ulster put Murray under severe pressure, while an Ireland squad featuring the names Murray and Sexton at half-back hardly speaks to a brave new world.

Yet they are stalwarts for a reason and the concerns over Murray’s poor form have eased considerably in recent weeks allied to a strong training week in Portugal have been enough to persuade Farrell the Munster star is getting back to his best.

Doris for O’Mahony

One is a star on the rise in a winning Leinster team, the other a warhorse fighting for form in an inconsistent Munster side and the young gun won the decision.

Caelan Doris, 21, will earn his Test debut at No.8 this Saturday against Scotland and there has been quite the rejig to accommodate the hard-carrying, abrasive rookie.

CJ Stander has been moved from No.8 to blindside flanker with vice-captain O’Mahony demoted to the replacements’ bench.

In direct contrast to the Murray versus Cooney decision, form has bested experience and O’Mahony will be in the unfamiliar and pressurised role of needing to make an impact off the bench.

Conway over Earls

Farrell has picked an exciting back-three to face Scotland in Dublin but it does not include Keith Earls, the veteran winger who suffered a knee injury against Racing 92 in Paris three weeks ago.

Earls has missed some training sessions with Ireland in Portugal this week and has been replaced by Munster team-mate Andrew Conway.

It was a change that may have been in the works before the injury, given Conway’s impressive if limited showing at the World Cup in Japan, when Earls cut a subdued figure.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox