Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will ring the changes for Sunday’s Autumn International with Georgia following his side’s bruising win over South Africa.
Despite debutant centre Jared Payne representing Ireland’s only notable casualty with a sprained foot from Saturday’s 29-15 win over the Springboks, the intense physicality of the opening November Test will mean Schmidt resting some of those players who started last weekend ahead of the meeting with Australia six days later on November 22.
In addition, flanker Chris Henry was withdrawn from the team on Saturday having woken up that morning with a virus, according to Schmidt.
“We’ve kind of mapped out how we might approach the next two games,” he said. “But it is definitely something we’ll discuss Monday morning when we get together as coaches. There are some guys who played who won’t play next week because I don’t think they’re physically capable of getting bashed like they did (Saturday) and getting up again eight days later and then trying to repeat that again six days later.
“So with the tight turnaround from Georgia to Australia there’ll be a few changes but hopefully some continuity as well. Those are decisions we’ll make on Monday when we’ve got the medical information as well.”
Payne, who impressed on his Test debut at outside centre in a new midfield partnership with Robbie Henshaw, seems unlikely to make consecutive starts after he hobbled off with assistance in the 78th minute. An x-ray showed no break but while Schmidt praised the Test rookies he said another combination at 12 and 13 would probably take the field against the Georgians as he searches for the right mix in the wake of Brian O’Driscoll’s retirement.
“There’s a quiet confidence within the coaching group and the team and with the two lads themselves,” the Ireland coach said of Payne and Henshaw. “We’re delighted that they’ll get a little bit more confidence from that but what I said during the week, Robbie Henshaw’s got three caps and he’ll be as good after three caps and he’ll be a bit better after 10 because he’ll know a bit more.
“I don’t think that’s suddenly solved the problem because there’s big shoes to fill, but at the same time it’s given us an option that worked out okay (against South Africa). I think you’ll see an alternative next week, particularly with Jared limping and he may not be able to play next week. We’ve got Stuart Olding coming back in and Gordon D’Arcy’s fully fit now so we have got a few options there.”
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