We’ve got some bad news Irish fans.
While we live in hope, it looks like our prayers aren’t going to be answered. The calls for a more expansive game plan and exciting backline are going to go unheard again this weekend.
Jared Payne will start but not at fullback, Stuart McCloskey will be dropped and Ireland will find themselves back to square one. Joe Schmidt is set to go with the conservative option this weekend and pair his favoured midfield partnership. Simon Zebo is expected to fill in at fullback in place of the injured Rob Kearney.
We’d like to take this moment as Irish fans ourselves to join everyone in Ireland in a collective sigh. Damn you Joe.
Probable Ireland team to take on Italy:
Simon Zebo, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Keith Earls, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Josh Van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip