Rugby Union – Schmidt opts to ring the changes

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has made four changes to the side that beat France last weekend for the Six Nations match against Italy. Schmidt admits that his players were extremely tired following their exertions in Paris and has decided to rest four forwards for the home match against the Azzurri. Jack McGrath replaces Cian Healy in the front row, Devin Toner and Dan Leavy come in at second row and flanker respectively, while Jack Conan starts at No.8. Schmidt said: "These Six Nations games do become, if nothing else, mentally attritional. "By the time we got back from Paris on Sunday evening, you had some fairly sore, tired bodies and it's just an opportunity to freshen the side up a little bit." Ireland are 11/8 with bet365 to win the Six Nations outright and 11/4 to complete the Grand Slam.

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