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Monday 26 September 2016

Tadhg must tame Beast

Schmidt makes five changes

Tadhg Furlong starts at prop for Ireland against South Africa tomorrow. Pic: Sportsfile
Tadhg Furlong starts at prop for Ireland against South Africa tomorrow. Pic: Sportsfile

Coach Joe Schmidt has given Tadhg Furlong the assignment of taming 'The Beast' for the second test in Johannesburg (Live Sky Sports 1 KO 4.0pm).

Tendai Mtawarira's explosive power caused all manner of problems for Mike Ross last week to destabilise the Irish scrum.

This is the biggest and most significant test of the Wexford man's career as he looks to move ahead of Ross as Ireland's anchorman.

"Yeah, it is a big day for Tadhg," said Schmidt.

The selection follows the coach's protocol for protecting his novice front row international until scrum coach Greg Feek, forwards coach Simon Easterby and Schmidt have empowered him to put his best foot forward.

"Tadhg has spent a fair bit of time with us without getting a massive amount of time with us out on the actual pitch," he continued. "He started the season with us at the World Cup. He's remained with us throughout the season.

"It's a huge ask for him, but we wouldn't do it if we weren't confident that he can step up and deliver something.

"It's a whole different realm stepping into the lion's den."

It would seem Schmidt has gone for the weight of muscle over that of experience in putting new cap Quinn Roux and the powerful Iain Henderson in behind Furlong.

Connacht lock Roux made the cross-hemisphere commitment from Western Province to Leinster in 2012 and makes a dream debut in his homeland.

"I think one of the things for us is Quinn is a very good set-piece player," said the coach.

"I think in the scrum and lineout, he's very proficient in those two areas and he's trained incredibly well since he's been with us.

"I know Quinn very well from having coached him for two years previously.

"During those two years he struggled to get real rhythm because he had a number of injuries and every time he got back playing, he unfortunately didn't get the opportunity to have a succession of games that would have allowed him to progress.

"We've seen a bit of that progress in Connacht this season and I guess we're challenging him to progress further in that international arena."

Rhys Ruddock joins Henderson as the second of two changes to the back row with Ulster backs Stuart Olding and Craig Gilroy coming in for centre Luke Marshall and wing Keith Earls, respectively.

There is also the prospect of bench debuts for Tiernan O'Halloran and Sean Reidy.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has countered with the introduction of out-half Elton Jantjes for the concussed Pat Lambie and second row Pieter-Steph du Toit for the injured Lood de Jager.

South Africa: W le Roux; JP Pietersen, L Mapoe, D de Allende, L Mvovo; E Jantjes, F de Klerk; T Mtawarira, A Strauss (capt), F Malherbe, E Etzebeth, PS du Toit, F Louw, S Kolisi, D Vermeulen.

Ireland: J Payne; A Trimble, R Henshaw, S Olding, C Gilroy; P Jackson, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best (capt), T Furlong, D Toner, Q Roux, I Henderson, R Ruddock, J Heaslip.

Verdict: Ireland.

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