• Home
  • /
  • Rugby
  • /
  • 5 Changes That Joe Schmidt Should Consider Ahead Of The Scotland Game

5 Changes That Joe Schmidt Should Consider Ahead Of The Scotland Game

5 Changes That Joe Schmidt Should Consider Ahead Of The Scotland Game
Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary
Share this article
ireland rugby changes scotland
1. Ian Madigan

Tony Ward made other headlines after his column suggested that Ian Madigan should start at outhalf against Scotland. While he called for overhaul changes, just one change to the backline could free up Ireland's attack given that points could be at a premium.

Instead of Madigan playing at outhalf, moving him to 12 where he has spent most of the season would give Ireland a new dimension with two receivers. It's something that Schmidt experimented with when Madigan made his biggest breakthrough in Joe's last season with Leinster.

In a one off match, it gives Ireland much more license in attack. The likes of Bowe and Zebo would be able to make scything runs off either Sexton or Madigan who has some playmaking ability to make things happen. It has the added benefit of moving Henshaw to outside centre where he has been in sensational attacking form for Connacht this season.

Defensively, Madigan has played 12 with Sexton at 10 before, while his small stature shouldn't be an issue against the Scottish midfield who at six foot and 15 stone each, after much smaller than the Bastareaud's and Luther Burrell's that he could be facing.

Long term, it would be prudent to have another centre partnership that have played with each other should one of Robbie Henshaw or Jared Payne get injured during the World Cup.

Finally, it also allows Jared Payne to cover several positions from the bench, with the hope that he will be able to get international gametime at his proper position of full back where he can spark some magic as a replacement with impact.

2. Impact Subs

There are calls for Eoin Reddan and Sean Cronin to start against Scotland, but that would be premature. Both players add impetus when they come on against tiring defences. Playing them from the start and not having things work out, only for Best and Murray to start isn't the best use of the available resources.


Instead replacements like Sean Cronin, Iain Henderson, Eoin Reddan, Jared Payne and Luke Fitzgerald offer an increase in tempo after the work of Best, Reddan and Toner have put Ireland into a lead. Having these players come on fresh and ready against a tiring Scottish side could end in carnage.

The added need for extra points mean that the likes of Fitzgerald or Earls may have a bigger shout to cover the outside backs over Felix Jones, especially with Jared Payne already on the bench, with Madigan covering Sexton at 10.

Cian Healy remains on the bench as he doesn't look ready to start, offers some impact, and Jack McGrath has earned the start for Ireland.

3. Set Piece

One change to be made to the front row is to have Martin Moore start. It actually goes against the logic of the previous point, because the consensus is that Mike Ross can't be put on the bench - he either starts or is left out. However, that is yet to be really proved. As Ross' understudy, Moore needs more gametime at international level, and seeing whether Ross can come on and do a job is a worthwhile experiment going forward into the World Cup.

One of Scotland's biggest threats is at the lineout, which means that Devin Toner and Rory Best need to be at their best. With Cronin and Henderson on the bench for impact, Toner's lineout nous will be crucial in giving Ireland a platform. Best's throwing was not good last weekend, and is prone to a lack of confidence with his throws. Dropping him will not help his confidence, but should things go wrong, Schmidt can't be so slow to release Cronin - who himself isn't known for his abilities out of touch.

4. Maul

Once Ireland do manage to secure some lineouts, Ireland should go after the Scottish pack in the maul. As Accenture tweeted last Saturday, the Scottish maul defence isn't good, while the Irish maul under the tutelage of Simon Easterby should be able to target this as an area to exploit.


It's an area that was a bigger strength for Ireland in the early games under Schmidt, but has lost it's emphasis with the loss of forward's coach John Plumtree. However, it was the source of Ireland's try against Wales, and they demonstrated against South Africa last November that they can engineer some tries from the tactic or gain some field position if Scotland chose to illegally collapse the maul.

5. Discipline

Speaking of which, Ireland's discipline in the opening minutes of the loss to Wales was one of the reasons why they lost. In the previous three games, Ireland had by far the best disciplinary record in the Six Nations and will have to get on the good side of referee Jerome Garces.

Conversely, Scotland's discipline possibly explains why they have lost all of their games despite looking a much better side than in recent history. They concede more penalties than any team in their own half, and Ireland should look to build a lead through penalties and tries of mauls in the first half before the replacements come on to put the game beyond doubt, much like the reverse fixture last year.

Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are now subscribed!

Share this article

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com