Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien will channel their frustration at missing out on Ireland's historic win over New Zealand in the right way, according to coach Joe Schmidt.
Both flankers were left off the plane for the trip to the USA last weekend, deemed not up to the required match fitness by the boss.
Since then the duo have indicated that they didn’t agree with the decision.
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Thirty-five cap O’Mahony said: “It took a couple of hours to process”, while O’Brien mused: "I wouldn't say I completely agreed with [the decision].”
Since tearing knee ligaments during the World Cup against France in October 2015, O’Mahony has played 200 minutes over four games for Munster, while O’Brien, out since a hamstring tear in this year’s Six Nations, played just 107 minutes in two first-class games for Leinster before selection was made.
They are both named to start against Canada on Saturday (7.15pm, live on RTÉ2) and Schmidt reckons that their frustration at being left out will now work to Ireland’s advantage.
“I don’t want them too frustrated, I want them just focused, ready to commit to what’s best for the group and that’s what they’ll do,” Schmidt told reporters.
“I’ve had a lot to do with them over the last three years and, as tempted as we were last week, out greatest fear was someone getting injured early in the match and then one of those two guys having to come off the bench and play 70 minutes.”
It was Leinster’s Jordi Murphy that got the nod instead but his day lasted just 24 minutes before suffering a knee injury that will keep him out for the rest of the season.
The Kiwi says that he factored in the possibility that something like an early departure would have given either man too much work to do, given their lengthy absences.
Here's your @IrishRugby team to play @RugbyCanada #TeamOfUs #shouldertoshoulder pic.twitter.com/r7NJaxBVSJ— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) November 10, 2016
“As it transpired it was 56 minutes but when you’re playing at that pace, trying to compete with the All Blacks, that’s still 56 very fast minutes on a fast surface in close to 20 degree heat," said Schmidt.
“To have someone like Josh van der Flier coming off the bench, he had all the mileage under his belt , he had the experience of being with us before.
“In the end we were really confident that Josh could deliver and that Jordi could as well. I think they both did a super job sharing that load at number 7”
Ireland show 15 changes for the Test against Mark Anscombe's side and the coach says that there are places up for grabs for the clash with New Zealand on Saturday week.
"There are players who’ll want to put their hand up, it’s very open-ended.
"There will be players who will come in to the starting side or into the squad for next week’s game but to get there they’re going to have to fully focus on this game and make they get what they need to get done as effectively as possible to allow them the springboard."
Also coming back in to the team for his ninth cap is Ulster centre Luke Marshall, partnering debutant Garry Ringrose.
“Luke brings a robustness to the midfield,” said Schmidt, who recently extended his contract until 2019. “He has quite nice skills that people probably don’t see as much of. He’s played quite a lot at 10.
“He’s defensively well able to get his shoulder on. He’s a compact unit and quite powerful. He’s growing his confidence at this level.”
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