Nathan White in line for Ireland debut against South Africa
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has hinted that Connacht prop Nathan White will earn his first cap against South Africa if Mike Ross is ruled out.
Leinster tight-head Ross continues to be troubled by a groin strain which could open the door to New Zealand-born White, 33, for the 8 November game.
"Nathan White is very experienced. He's played a lot of Super Rugby," said Schmidt of former Chiefs player White.
"His experience is one of the reasons why we have picked him."
White will become Ireland's fourth oldest debutant of all time at 33 years and 51 days if he faces the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium.
|Nathan White factfile|
|1983: Born, 18 September Hawera, New Zealand|
|2002: Makes debut for National Provincial Championship club Waikato|
|2006: Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs|
|2011: Signs for Leinster after making 41 appearances for the Chiefs|
|2012: Moves to Connacht after 12 Leinster appearances|
|2014: Becomes Irish-qualified and called up for autumn internationals|
New Zealander Schmidt has promoted White with Marty Moore sidelined after shoulder surgery.
"I'm not sure whether Mike (Ross) will play this weekend or next weekend, because at the moment it's symptom-based," added the Ireland coach.
"If he's able to play then great. If he is unavailable for South Africa I think we've got a bit of experience in Nathan and we've got Rodney (Ah You), who has really picked up his form, and Steven Archer, who is on his way back to form.
"Connacht's two tight-head boys are rewarded for some really good performances. Rodney against Glasgow, Nathan against a number of sides.
"Probably uppermost for Nathan was how we went against Jack McGrath and Cian Healy in the derby game against Leinster."
South Africa ooze scrum power with Tendai Mtawarira combining with locks Bakkies Botha, Eben Etzebeth and Victor Matfield to offer almost unrivalled ballast.
Ireland's third autumn opponents Australia may not boast the same set-piece pedigree, but Schmidt warned that Georgia cannot be overlooked.
Georgia's front-row options include Clermont's Davit Zirakashvili and Stade Francais prop Davit Kubriashvili.
"We're not just talking about the highly ranked teams. Georgia have got a prop factory," Schmidt said, backing Jack McGrath to cope at loose-head in Cian Healy's absence.
"On the loose-head side, Jack McGrath has continued to grow and do well for us.
"I think what he did in Argentina [on Ireland's summer tour] was a real benchmark for him."