RUGBY: Paddy Jackson starts for Ireland against Japan

Ireland team huddle during training 
in Japan
Ireland team huddle during training in Japan

Ireland’s preparations for Saturday’s opening Test against Japan have not been ideal, but head coach Joe Schmidt has backed his new-look side to rise to the challenge.

Having landed in Tokyo on Monday after a 20-hour flight from New York, Schmidt’s men have had to adapt to a new time zone as well as hot and humid conditions.

Schmidt has made six changes to the side which thrashed the US Eagles 55-19 in New Jersey with Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway, Rory Scannell, Paddy Jackson, Luke McGrath and Dan Leavy all coming into the startling line-up.

“Preparations have been brief, pretty brief,” said Schmidt.

“The work rate in training today was really good because I think the players are very conscious that it is the only training we will get this week, so they wanted to make sure that they got as much clarity and got a bit of rhythm as best they could.

“It wasn’t perfect, and it seldom is, but I think we will learn from it and hopefully we will be a little more cohesive by the time we kick off on Saturday.

“Trying to acclimatise has been very difficult. We did have the advantage of playing in very hot temperatures in New Jersey last weekend but by the time we left the hotel on Sunday morning and by the time we arrived here it was Monday night.

“You are very jumbled from the different time zones and so that has taken a toll but it certainly won’t be considered anything other than an imposition in the early part of the week and by the end of the week we have to make sure we are ready to go.”

Paddy Jackson, who missed the game against the US Eagles, will start at outhalf and Ulster lock, Kieran Treadwell is named on the bench and could make his Test debut.

Ireland: S Zebo; A Conway, G Ringrose, R Scannell, K Earls; P Jackson, L McGrath; C Healy, N Scannell, J Ryan; Q Roux, D Toner; R Ruddock, D Leavy, J Conan.

Replacements: J Tracy, D Kilcoyne, F Bealham, K Treadwell, J O’Donoghue, K Marmion, R O’Loughlin, T O’Halloran.