Is it time to blood a host of new players in the Ireland set-up, or should Schmidt retain faith in the players that have won two Six Nations titles?
It's the eternal question.
A coach is always likely to stick to those he trusts, but when they aren't in form and the alternatives are - what do you do?
We already know that George Hook wants there to be wholesale changes - calling for Ian Madigan and Garry Ringrose to come in - with Jared Payne moving to full-back. But Hook has some opposition, and it comes in the form of his replacement on RTE's 'A panel' for rugby - Ronan O'Gara.
O'Gara took to his Irish Examiner column to stress the need for continuity:
You start throwing young fellas like Ringrose and McCloskey in and let’s argue that Ireland get a trimming.
What it would do to the confidence of the rookie talents Ireland could introduce. Is a backs-against-the-wall mindset really the best place to be putting in a callow youngster like Garry Ringrose?
So who is right? The majority of the fans are calling for there to be some changes - and with Sean O'Brien adding his name to the list of casualities that include Peter O'Mahony, Iain Henderson, and Luke Fitzgerald - O'Gara doesn't think we have the personnel to beat England even by keeping the changes to a minimum.
See Also: All The Criticism Of Joe Schmidt Shows That The National Media Thinks There's Only Two Provinces In Ireland
But why does it have to be one or the other? Schmidt will be forced to make at least three changes anyway, but why not add McCloskey into that mix? And have another change for the following game against Italy. Gradual introductions to the mix for the players who deserve it can freshen up a squad. It can give it a lift.
But, O'Gara should know this more than most people - his international debut came in 2000 when Gatland introduced the famous five all at once - Shane Horgan, John Hayes, Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer, and Simon Easterby.
We think that Schmidt should introduce brings some players in, but not too many. We, like the majority of the country, want to see Stuart McCloskey in the team - which would allow Henshaw play in his natural position of 13, and Payne at 15.
We want to see Paddy Jackson included too, from the start. That's more because of how banged up Sexton has been, and another weekend off could help both out-halves.
We've also left Cian Healy and Mike Ross out altogether. Ireland finally have some depth at prop, and we need to make sure that these players get game time at the highest level. Why rush Healy and Ross back when it isn't as urgent and let James Cronin, Jack McGrath, Nathan White, and Tadhg Furlong continue with the job they have been doing.
|v England||v Italy||v Scotland|
|15||Jared Payne||15||Simon Zebo||15||Jared Payne|
|14||Andrew Trimble||14||Andrew Trimble||14||Andrew Trimble|
|13||Robbie Henshaw||13||Robbie Henshaw||13||Robbie Henshaw|
|12||Stuart McCloskey||12||Stuart McCloskey||12||Stuart McCloskey|
|11||Keith Earls||11||Keith Earls||11||Keith Earls|
|10||Paddy Jackson||10||Paddy Jackson||10||Johnny Sexton|
|9||Conor Murray||9||Kieran Marmion||9||Conor Murray|
|1||Jack McGrath||1||James Cronin||1||Jack McGrath|
|2||Rory Best||2||Rory Best||2||Rory Best|
|3||Nathan White||3||Nathan White||3||Tadhg Furlong|
|4||Donnacha Ryan||4||Donnacha Ryan||4||Donnacha Ryan|
|5||Devin Toner||5||Devin Toner||5||Devin Toner|
|6||Rhys Ruddock||6||Rhys Ruddock||6||CJ Stander|
|7||Tommy O'Donnell||7||Tommy O'Donnell||7||Tommy O'Donnell|
|8||Jamie Heaslip||8||CJ Stander||8||Jamie Heaslip|
|16||Sean Cronin||16||Sean Cronin||16||Richardt Strauss|
|17||James Cronin||17||Jack McGrath||17||James Cronin|
|18||Tadhg Furlong||18||Tadhg Furlong||18||Nathan White|
|19||Ultan Dillane||19||Ultan Dillane||19||Ultan Dillane|
|20||CJ Stander||20||Jamie Heaslip||20||Rhys Ruddock|
|21||Kieran Marmion||21||Conor Murray||21||Kieran Marmion|
|22||Ian Madigan||22||Johnny Sexton||22||Paddy Jackson|
|23||Craig Gilroy||23||Garry Ringrose||23||Simon Zebo|
Ultan Dillane will finally be given a run-out, but that looks like it would have happened with McCarthy's absence anyway. We think Dillane will get his first exposure to international rugby off the bench, and allow Toner and Ryan develop a partnership.
Quick note on CJ Stander, that's more of a "horses for courses" selection - with grunters proving to be very effective against England in the last number of years. We do want to see him at no.8 against Italy, and between Ruddock, Heaslip, and Stander, there would be some rotation.
We want Garry Ringrose gets his first cap from the bench against Italy, and Craig Gilroy finally gets a nod for his good form before Simon Zebo returns from injury.
Italy is always the game for some rotation, with Heaslip, Murray, Payne, and McGrath all rested before returning for the final game.
Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE