Six Nations: Andy Farrell expects the return of key stars for Murrayfield clash

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is hopeful that several of his key stars who have been sidelined with injury will return against Scotland at Murrayfield on March 12.

Farrell’s side continued their charge towards a potential Grand Slam with a 34-20 win over Italy in Rome last weekend.

However, Ireland did not have it all their own way in the clash with their lead being reduced to as low as four points in the second period, but ultimately they showed their class to claim a third bonus-point win on the bounce.

The world’s number-one side has been without captain Johnny Sexton, Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, Jamison Gibson-Park, Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw.

Big returns expected

However, Farrell gave an update as several stars are set to return for the battle at Murrayfield.

“Not far off all of them. Tadhg (Furlong) is going really well and we would expect him to train Wednesday and Thursday when we’re in camp,” Farrell said.

“Jamison’s fit, Robbie’s fit, so we’ve got a good crop of players coming back when it matters.”

Finlay Bealham stepped in for Furlong brilliantly but succumbed to injury against Italy; meanwhile, Gibson-Park and Henshaw are still waiting for their first appearance in this year’s Six Nations.

Farrell said: “Well, obviously, it matters because ideally you would love (for them to have some game time) but how many times have we done this now?

“We’ve done it time and time again in regards of it not being ideal.

“But we pride ourselves on making sure that our training gets people up to speed and we’ll see how they’ll come back into that and deal with all that.”

Tricky battle

Murrayfield has been a friendly ground for Ireland regarding results, with 11 wins in the last 12, but Farrell knows how difficult it will be against a Scotland side playing well this year and one who still has a shot at the Triple Crown.

“It’s one of the toughest places in world rugby to go and it doesn’t matter what anyone’s record is there, they’re tough to beat there,” he said.

“They’re going for the Triple Crown – that will mean a lot to them, so it has to mean even more to us.”

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