SIX NATIONS RUGBY: Boost for Ireland as Lions duo passed fit for Scottish clash
Iain Henderson and Tadhg Furlong have been passed fit for Ireland's pivotal NatWest 6 Nations clash with Scotland in Dublin on Saturday.
The British and Irish Lions duo missed Ireland’s 37-27 win over Wales on February 24 with hamstring concerns, but are now ready to return.
Leinster prop Furlong has emerged as one of the globe’s most potent tightheads in the last 18 months, while Ulster lock Henderson was unlucky not to taste Test action with the Lions last summer.
Both influential forwards are expected to start Saturday’s Aviva Stadium encounter, as Ireland chase a fourth straight win in this year’s competition.
“Everyone was good today, everyone came through,” said forwards coach Simon Easterby, confirming Furlong and Henderson’s return to full training.
“We have to keep players on a tight leash because they are desperate; those who didn’t get the opportunity to play against Wales will be desperate to come back in.
“Guys that did play have the ownership of that shirt and I think it’s a great place to be, when losing those players the guys that came in didn’t drop the standard.”
Half-backs Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton have fully shaken off minor knocks, leaving Ireland well stocked ahead of Saturday’s showdown.
Easterby hailed youngsters Andrew Porter and James Ryan for impressing in the absence of Furlong and Henderson, admitting the selection battle has been intense this week.
Beat the Scots this weekend and Ireland will be just one win away from a first Grand Slam in nine years.
Joe Schmidt’s side must see off Scotland and England at Twickenham on March 17 to secure just Ireland’s third-ever tournament clean sweep.
“It causes us a selection headache and you have to applaud Andrew Porter’s performance in the Italian game and then starting the Welsh game,” said Easterby.
“And it is the same in the second-row with James Ryan, a couple of youngsters have come in and really done a job for us.
“Any side would be happy to have those players come back into selection.”
, they are quality and proved that especially in the summer with the Lions with some first-class performances.
“It has created massive competition within the group: we are building quality depth and even guys who don’t make the 23 this weekend could feel they could come in and not drop the squad’s standards.”