Six Nations

Irish skipper Best fit to face Scotland

Rory Best (AFP Photo)
Rory Best (AFP Photo)

Dublin - Rory Best has shaken off a calf injury to be named as Ireland captain for Saturday's home Six Nations match against Scotland in a battle to nail down third place.

"Rory Best trained fully today too, and showed no ill effects of the tight calf that he had on Monday," Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said of the Ulster hooker who will play his 32nd consecutive Six Nations match.

Munster flanker Tommy O'Donnell has been preferred to Leinster young gun Josh van der Flier at openside in Ireland's only change, with Schmidt mindful of countering Scotland's impressive breakdown work.

"We've tried to balance opportunity with continuity across the course of the Six Nations and we hope that will bear fruit in future," Schmidt said.

Simon Zebo starts at fullback as expected with Rob Kearney again sidelined with hamstring trouble, while Keith Earls will win his 50th cap on the left wing.

Defending champions Ireland surrendered their title by drawing with Wales (16-16) and losing in France (10-9) and England (21-10), so are now bidding to finish with something of a flourish.

Best's recovery from calf trouble should ensure a steady scrum, though Ireland are sufficiently concerned about Scotland's set-piece to select big-scrummaging Richardt Strauss on the bench ahead of Sean Cronin.

Leinster's fast-developing flanker Van der Flier has proved his wide Test potential, seizing on Ireland's raft of back-row injuries during this tournament.

Ireland are desperate to end their campaign with a second victory after having seen off Italy (58-15), however, leaving Schmidt refusing to take any chances, and restoring 28-year-old O'Donnell to his starting back-row cordon.

Connacht's talented 22-year-old lock Ultan Dillane has another chance to impress off the bench, while fit-again Cian Healy and Eoin Reddan are restored to the replacements after missing last weekend's rout of Italy.

Ireland

15 Simon Zebo; 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Keith Earls; 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 CJ Stander; 5 Devin Toner, 4 Donnacha Ryan; 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best (capt), 1 Jack McGrath

Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Nathan White, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fergus McFadden

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England 204 & 284/8 (104 ov)
West Indies 318
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