Six Nations 2016: Tommy O'Donnell's inclusion only Irish change for Scots game

Tommy O'Donnell (left) and Conor Murray
Tommy O'Donnell (left) will join his Munster colleague Conor Murray in the Ireland team
Six Nations: Ireland v Scotland
Date: Saturday, 19 March Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on ITV, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio Ulster, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Flanker Tommy O'Donnell replaces Josh van der Flier in Ireland's only change from the win over Italy for Saturday's Six Nations game against Scotland.

Captain Rory Best has shaken off a calf muscle injury and will start.

Coach Joe Schmidt said that Van der Flier took a "bang" in training on Monday after "shipping a couple of knocks" in the England and Italy games.

"Josh would probably be fit to play but he is just carrying a few knocks," said the Ireland coach.

"Conversely, Tommy has trained incredibly well.

"He hasn't had the luckiest of preparations with us in previous times," said Schmidt of O'Donnell who will be winning his 12th cap on Saturday.

Six Nations table

O'Donnell missed out on last Autumn's World Cup in heartbreaking fashion after sustaining a dislocated hip in the warm-up game against Wales in August.

However, the Munster flanker, 28, battled back to feature in Ireland's opening Six Nations games against Wales and France.

Best, 33, was reported to have a tight calf on Tuesday but the hooker was able to resume training on Thursday.

An Ireland win will move the holders above Scotland in the table and ensure they finish no lower than fourth.

If results go to form with Wales seeing off the Italians and new champions England completing the Grand Slam at the Stade de France, a home win at the Aviva Stadium will leave Ireland third in the table.

In the first season following Paul O'Connell's retirement, Schmidt insisted that he would be happy with a top-three finish after a campaign where they missed several influential players including Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony and Tommy Bowe.

This weekend's Six Nations schedule
Date (All times GMT)FixtureCoverage
Sat, 19 Mar (14:30 KO)Wales v ItalyBBC One, S4C and BBC Radio
Sat, 19 Mar (17:00 KO)Ireland v ScotlandITV and BBC Radio
Sat, 19 Mar, (20:00 KO)France v EnglandBBC One and BBC Radio

Sean O'Brien, Mike McCarthy and Dave Kearney missed the last three games of Ireland's tournament after being injured in the defeat by France while Jared Payne, Rob Kearney, Simon Zebo and Keith Earls have also been ruled out for stages of the campaign.

"If we can get that top-half finish I'd be very happy that we've worked our way through a pretty challenging time," added Schmidt.

"Hopefully that could give us a little bit of a platform into what is an incredibly tough second half of the year."

Ireland face a three-Test tour to South Africa in June before facing New Zealand twice and Australia in the autumn in an unforgiving close to 2016.

Simon Zebo's impressive attacking display in last weekend's nine-try 58-15 win over Italy meant that his retention at full-back was not in any doubt with Rob Kearney again ruled out by injury.

Eoin Reddan and Cian Healy, who both missed the Italy game because of knocks, return to the bench in place of Connacht pair Kieran Marmion and Finlay Bealham after resuming training this week.

Ireland: S Zebo, A Trimble, J Payne, R Henshaw, K Earls, J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best (capt), M Ross; D Ryan, D Toner; CJ Stander, T O'Donnell, J Heaslip.

Replacements: R Strauss, C Healy, N White, U Dillane, R Ruddock, E Reddan, I Madigan, F McFadden.

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