Breakfast with Brennan: Steady as she goes, Joe

In: Luke Fitzgerald

In: Luke Fitzgerald

Irish rugby coach Joe Schmidt has made a little incision into the body of his team for tomorrow’s six Nations concluding match against Scotland at Murrayfield – but he certainly hasn’t slashed at it with a scalpel.

Two changes were perhaps the minimum to be expected in the wake of many players under-performing against the Welsh last Saturday. And one of them, Cian Healy returning at prop instead of Jack McGrath, was simply an issue of Healy being ready to go from the start of matches after a long period out through injury.

The other sees Simon Zebo lose his place on the team, and indeed in the match-day 23, to Luke Fitzgerald as Schmidt seeks to put a bit of zip in an Irish back-line that has too often failed to go around the men in front of them.

Mind you the backs must be getting a little cheesed off with their colleagues up front getting white line fever last Saturday. Two opportunities for tries were butchered against Wales as the forwards sought to burrow over the try-line when a pass out to an unmarked green shirt on the wing would have done the trick.

Fitzgerald has played well this season, but has scored just one try for Leinster and yet gets the call to the green shirt.

Zebo must now be worried about his Irish future. There has long been a suspicion that Schmidt does not fancy the flashy Zebo in defence and that might have played a part in the call.

But Rory Best and Devin Toner can breathe a bit easier this morning. Ireland's line-out was a mess in Cardiff and yet the thrower and the chief jumper survive when there are options for their positions in Sean Cronin and Iain Henderson respectively.

Best and Toner need to excel against the Jocks if we are not to have a pre-World Cup summer of speculation about their positions.

I expect Ireland to beat Scotland tomorrow, but will they win by a sufficient margin to secure the Six Nations Championship? I doubt it! 


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