Joe Schmidt Provides Fitness Updates On Iain Henderson & Tadhg Furlong

Joe Schmidt Provides Fitness Updates On Iain Henderson & Tadhg Furlong

Joe Schmidt Provides Fitness Updates On Iain Henderson & Tadhg Furlong

Joe Schmidt will on Thursday announce his team to face Wales on Saturday and Sportsmail understands that the 22-year-old rookie will be the starting tighthead.

The Munster centre will pick up his third worldwide cap when he takes to the pitch for Joe Schmidt's side who will be hoping to maintain their Grand Slam aspirations with a third successive victory after beating France and Italy.

Chris Farrell comes into the centre in place of Athlone's Robbie Henshaw who is out for the remainder of the tournament.

Farrell picked up a knee injury during only his second ever Ireland appearance against the South Americans in that match, but he has overcome that knock to force his way back into the worldwide side. Cian Healy returns at loosehead prop in place of Jack McGrath who is on the bench.

Porter will come in for his first Six Nations start after Furlong's participation in training earlier this week was hampered by injury.

"You don't suddenly replace world-class players".

"We're short on experience, and we're up against a team welcoming back three Lions while we see three disappear", Schmidt says.

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Furlong and Henderson are both nursing hamstring issues, leaving rookie Leinster duo Ryan and Porter tasked with shoring up the hosts' scrum. "That's not ideal but if you want to learn, what better environment than what will be a really white-hot atmosphere on Saturday".

Every side in world rugby would feel the loss of Tadhg Furlong, even more than defenders feel it when the Wexford wagon runs into and over them.

In an Irish context O'Sullivan leads the way from his time as national coach (2001-2008), 23 Test matches more than 2009 Grand Slam winning coach Kidney, who on Saturday will be joined by Schmidt on 53 Tests after the game against Wales.

"We're going to have to demonstrate that we have a strength of squad and we are excited at the prospect of doing that", said Joe Schmidt. But the progress just stalled a little bit.

"Over the a year ago and a half with what he's had to take in his stride, changing sides on the scrum and how he's developed that part of his game, it's more exciting than nervous to see what he's going to provide".

"And then there's the freak show that is James Ryan, he keeps producing and that's exciting as well, to have his energy behind you in the scrum is brilliant".

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