Ireland will face Italy on Saturday to go back from the worst start of the Six Nations campaign.
With consecutive defeats to Wales and France on the part of Andy Farrell, the hosts are waiting for their first tournament victory.
Below, we look at some of the key points of conversation before the Rome match.
A game to win
Irish Rugby Football Union Performance Manager David Nusifora finished Ireland’s third at the 2020 Six Nations Championship. Subsequent defeats mean that it is difficult to repeat this moderate result.
Excellent performance is the Irish favorite to win at the Olympic Stadium, and excellent performance risks prevent further progress tests under Farrell. The coach repeatedly expressed relief at being away from the cameras and said the pressure “makes him feel alive”. Given the recent results and the level of opposition, the first victory outside of its short term is in order.
Here is Johnny
The discussion about senior captain Johnny Sexton’s availability for the next World Cup will most likely continue in the future. The 35-year-old said this week that he would not be in the 2023 tournament, but later clarified that this was a far-fetched opinion and ressed that his future would be evaluated annually.
Since Billy Burns and Rose Byrne have not convinced each other that he will be his longtime successor and Joy Carbury on his way back from injury, there is no doubt that Sexton is still ranked 10th in his country. He is expected to return from a headline to win his # 97 cap this weekend, hoping to prove his consistent influence in a few weeks.
In the wake of the 15-13 defeat to Les Blues, Farrell said he needed more creative brilliance from his look. Ireland have scored the fewest goals in the tournament twice so far, both coming from forwards: Tudge Byron and Ronan Keller.
Failure to break down the tough defense has become a constant concern. With Sexton and Jordan Larmer returning to the wing for the first time ahead of the 2019 World Cup, Farrell set up a defense that fully comprises of Leinster players. Experience is expected to lead to further progress, while facing the weaker side of the competition should provide the best stage for the fall.
Although Farrell needed more skill from technically proficient players, the extent of the changes he made came mainly within the group, which included a top makeover. Only Ian Henderson Locke and eighth-seeded CJ Standard remain in contention for the title against France.
Dave Kilcoin took a rare lead when Kellogg’s got a chance at a whore after appearing against France within a year of Tighthead Coast’s thug Furlong.
Deputy Commander James Ryan strengthens the second column following a head injury, pushing Byrne to the blind spot, while Will Connors comes from the open side.
The six-nation defeat in Italy – more than six years old – is likely to extend to 30 games this weekend. Assouri manager Franco Smith has named a team that has not changed since losing to the English champions last time out, but their meager career still represents a disaster in the tournament.
Despite calls for promotion and deportation to the tournament through the play-offs, Farrell believes the Italians deserve to retain their place in South Africa, citing Smith’s progress. There are a lot of people who disagree.
Italy: 15 Jacopo Trula, 14 Luka Sperantio, 13 Joan Ignacio Brix, 12 Carlo Cana, 11 Montana Eon, 10 Paulo Garbici, 9 Stephen Farny, 1 Andrea Lafotti, 2 Luka Piquette (C), 3 Marco Lazaroni, 5 David Al CC, 6 Sebastian Negri, 7 Johann Meyer, 8 Michael Lamaru
Alternative: 16 Gianmarco Lucci, 17 Sheriff Troer, 18 Geozoi Silucci, 19 Niccol ക Canoni, 20 Maxim Embanda, 21 Calm Braley, 22 Federico Mori, 23 Modified Bellini
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmore, 13 Gary Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jonathan Sexton (c), 9 Jamie Gibson Parks, 1 Dave Kilkwein, 2 Ronan Keller, 3 Todge Forlong, 4 Ian Ryan, 6 Thudge Byrne, 7 Will Connors, 8 CJ Standard
Alternative: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Sean Healy, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ryan Byrd, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Keith Earls