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VIDEO: Irish coaches face 'toughest job'

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Defence coach Simon Easterby admitted that Ireland’s management is in a bit of a selection conundrum ahead of the Test against South Africa at Kings Park in Durban.

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Ireland have lost the services of hooker Dan Sheehan and scrumhalf Craig Casey following the 20-27 defeat to the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld last weekend.

Aside from the pair,  the team has reported a clean bill of health with James Lowe, Jamie Osborne, Bundee Aki, Andrew Porter and Robbie Henshaw all spotted at training on Tuesday.

However,  Easterby said team changes could be expected against Rassie Erasmus’ unchanged 23-man squad.

The former Irish international said the modification will stem from the performance in the first Test.

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“Selection is always a balance between knowing that players maybe didn’t produce the type of performance you believe they’re capable of and giving an opportunity [to other players],” Easterby told reporters at Northwood High School.

“That will be reflected in the selection this week.

“It’s one of the toughest jobs as coaches in deciding on that 15 because there is so much competition in the squad.

“You can’t give opportunities to everyone. However, the guys that do get an opportunity must have an understanding that they have that chance and there are lots of other players who won’t get that chance.

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“So, they have to make sure that they play for each other in the group.”

The changes could see centre Garry Ringrose get a start after an impressive performance off the bench, while Ronan Kelleher and Conor Murray are expected to replace the injured Sheehan and Casey.

Another key decision will be whether to start captain Peter O’Mahony or Ryan Baird, who delivered a strong performance off the bench last week.

Baird’s versatility does give him a slight advantage.

“He [Baird] is a real athlete,” Easterby said, adding: “He can play lock [as well].

“There are more guys who are locks or No.6. However the athleticism of Bairdo, Izzy [Cormac Izuchukwu], who potentially could play lock – he’s done it for Ulster – [is amazing].

“He [Baird] is some specimen in terms of his physical attributes.”

He added: “Guys bring different traits to the game. And a No.6 who can keep up with the wings and do all the fundamental bits is a real advantage.

“South Africa have a few of those as well.”

Ireland coach Andy Farrell will name his team on Thursday.

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