Foley and Ryan to debut
The Munster lock has been impressing the southern province’s coaching staff and supporters for some time now, and Schmidt has clearly been watching the Clonmel lock’s progress too.
Foley is excellent at the line-out. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland
Excellent around the rucks, hard-working in defence and a superb line-out operator, Foley faces a tough first task for Ireland in taking on the powerful Georgian forwards. His enthusiasm, energy and efficiency should be important for Schmidt’s side.
Schmidt is well aware of the qualities of Ryan, having worked with him at Leinster prior to taking up his role as head of the national team. The 24-year-old has played at openside recently, but slots in with the six jersey on his back for this weekend.
There may be a further debut for Ireland off the bench, with Munster man Robin Copeland included among the replacements. While his provincial career has yet to take off, the Wexford native offers ball-carrying dynamism.
Madigan takes over at 10
With Johnny Sexton getting a chance to put the feet up this weekend, his Leinster teammate-to-be takes responsibility for running Schmidt’s game plan from the out-half position.
Madigan slotted a late penalty for Ireland last weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Given Georgia’s relative weakness in the backs, it is expected that Ireland will broaden their attacking palate this weekend, a duty for which Madigan is ideally built. That said, kicking foundations will remain central for Schmidt’s side, so Madigan will need to control that aspect of the game too.
Having been shunted around from out-half to fullback to centre for his province this season, Madigan will be looking forward to playing in his favoured position on Sunday. Schmidt will demand a dominant performance from his number 10.
Darren Cave in from the cold
One name we perhaps didn’t expect to see in an Ireland XV this month was Darren Cave, given that the Ulster centre wasn’t even named in Schmidt’s original 37-man squad for this series of Tests.
Cave performed well in Argentina during the summer. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
According to sources, Cave was briefly in holiday mode last week as Ulster were given time off, but Schmidt has turned to the 27-year-old this weekend, having indicated last month that Cave was indeed still on Ireland’s radar.