Ireland’s team is missing two game-changing players. Ulster player, Tommy Bowe, will not be considered for the Six Nations game against Italy as he continues his rehabilitation after a groin injury. Bowe had “tightened up” after 30 minutes on Friday. Speaking after the match, he said: “I always knew I’d have to have game-time if I ever wanted to get myself back into the Ireland set-up. I think I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that I’m probably going to miss this one, unfortunately.” Also missing is Sean O’Brien.
Simon Zebo is a welcome addition to the Ireland squad, replacing Felix Jones. The 24-year-old is widely thought of as one of Ireland’s next big prospects after bursting onto the international scene. There is no doubt that Zebo has lacked consistency at times. But in recent weeks, the wing has returned to form with a try in a 25-11victory over Ospreys. It will be up to Schmidt to nurture the best out of the prodigious talent, as he attempts to add to his tries in six Ireland appearances.
After his injury last week, Brian O’Driscoll will be able to play his second ever last game in an Irish jersey. He is regarded as Ireland’s all-time best player by most, scoring the most tries and playing the most games for Ireland. This tournament secures O’Driscoll the record for the most internationally capped player in the game.
Ireland should win comfortably but Italy will be physical, especially up front. It is Joe Schmidt’s first RBS 6 Nations tournament in charge. The Italy game could set up Schmidt with a very exciting last game since the top four teams on the table are particularly close this year.
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