TADHG BEIRNE’S STRONG return from injury had put him back in the selection frame for Ireland’s Six Nations clash against France, but the Munster second row must wait for his first championship appearance.
Beirne missed the opening rounds of Ireland’s campaign due to a knee injury sustained in Munster’s Champions Cup victory over Exeter Chiefs at the end of January, but has made a strong comeback in recent weeks.
Beirne in training at Carton House. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
His performance against Ospreys a fortnight ago thrust him firmly back in Joe Schmidt’s thoughts and Beirne was in contention for this weekend, but after reporting ‘soreness’ in training during the week, will not be involved.
Schmidt has instead turned to James Ryan and Iain Henderson as his starting second row pairing, with Connacht’s Ultan Dillane rewarded for an excellent showing against Italy last time out with a place on the bench.
The Ireland head coach hopes a weekend off will put 27-year-old Beirne in a good position to hit the ground running at the start of next week, ahead of the final championship outing against Wales in Cardiff.
“The second row, as tempted as we were with Tadhg Beirne, he’s been a little bit sore this week as he’s still coming back after injury,” Schmidt said at Carton House this afternoon.
“He’s just a bit sore. He was in the mix but he’s going to get the weekend off and he’ll come back in fresh to train next week and again, we’ll make some decisions next week.”
Beirne, who made his Ireland debut in Australia last summer, impressed during the November Tests against Italy and USA but Dillane’s form reduced the need for Schmidt to promote the Munster lock straight back into his matchday 23.
Schmidt has made seven changes to his starting XV for Sunday’s round four clash against Jacques Brunel’s side at the Aviva Stadium, with Ryan and Henderson — who start together in green for the sixth time — among those returning to the side.
Garry Ringrose and CJ Stander have also returned to fitness to boost Ireland as they bid to finish the championship on a high, while captain Rory Best and Cian Healy are restored after being rested in Rome last time out.
“It was about giving a bit more opportunity,” Schmidt continued.