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Rugby World Cup 2023: Iain Henderson and Dan Sheehan come into Ireland team for Scotland clash

Andy Farrell has brought Iain Henderson and Dan Sheehan into Ireland's starting XV for their final Rugby World Cup pool stage game against Scotland on Saturday; Ireland need to avoid losing without a bonus point to ensure they go through to the knockout stage, while Scotland must win

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James Cole explains the permutations involved in Pool B at the Rugby World Cup which could see either Ireland, Scotland or defending world champions South Africa being knocked out of the tournament

Iain Henderson will start in place of vice-captain James Ryan in Ireland's second row for Saturday's pivotal Rugby World Cup clash with Scotland in Paris.

Dan Sheehan replaces Ronan Kelleher at hooker in the only other change from the side that beat South Africa nearly two weeks ago.

If Ireland avoid defeat they will top Pool B and face a likely quarter-final against New Zealand. Scotland must beat Ireland and also deny them a losing bonus point to progress.

There is also one highly unlikely scenario where Ireland and Scotland may both progress at South Africa's expense. If the Scots beat Ireland by at least 21 points, achieve a try bonus-point in doing so (at least four tries), and Ireland also pick up a try bonus-point of their own in defeat.

Leinster lock Ryan sustained a hand injury in his Ireland's 13-8 win over South Africa on September 23 and has been named on the bench, handing a first start of the tournament to Ulster skipper Henderson.

Sheehan has been preferred to Leinster team-mate Kelleher and will make his full World Cup debut in the other change to Andy Farrell's starting XV, while back-rower Jack Conan is back on the bench following injury.

Sheehan came on against the Springboks a fortnight ago for his first appearance since suffering a foot injury in the warm-up win over England on August 19. Number eight Conan is in line for his first outing since damaging foot ligaments two months ago.

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Centre Robbie Henshaw, who is set for at least two weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, has been replaced on the bench by Stuart McCloskey, while flanker Peter O'Mahony will win his 100th Ireland cap.

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Highlights from Saturday's Rugby World Cup action as Ireland recorded victory over South Africa, England thrashed Chile and Georgia and Portugal drew

Veteran fly-half Johnny Sexton will captain his side for the fourth successive Pool B fixture following his return from an absence of almost six months due to injury and suspension.

The 38-year-old will be partnered by Jamison Gibson-Park, with the in-form Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose in midfield and wings James Lowe and Mack Hansen joining full-back Hugo Keenan in the backline.

Sheehan will be sandwiched between provincial team-mates Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong, with Henderson packing down alongside Tadhg Beirne.

Centurion O'Mahony, who made his Test debut against Italy in 2012, will continue in the back row with world player of the year Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris.

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James Cole reflects on Ireland's 13-8 win over South Africa in Pool B

The Munster captain is set to become the 10th Irishman to reach the milestone, following Brian O'Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara, Rory Best, Paul O'Connell and John Hayes, and current team-mates Cian Healy, Sexton, Conor Murray and Keith Earls.

Conan, Ryan and McCloskey are joined in reserve by Kelleher, props Dave Kilcoyne and Finlay Bealham, scrum-half Murray and fly-half Jack Crowley.

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park; 1 Andrew Porter, 2 Dan Sheehan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Iain Henderson, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 Caelan Doris.

Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 James Ryan, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Stuart McCloskey

Image: Johnny Sexton will captain Ireland for their crucial final pool game against Scotland

Farrell: Henshaw out for a minimum of two weeks with hamstring injury

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said of centre Henshaw...

"He pulled up with a hamstring unfortunately at the end of the session on Tuesday.

"The diagnosis with hamstrings, they want to see how things settle down and it probably takes about five days for that type of thing to happen but it looks like it could be a minimum of a couple of weeks at this stage.

Paris , France - 23 September 2023; Robbie Henshaw of Ireland after the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between South Africa and Ireland at Stade de France in Paris, France. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Image: Robbie Henshaw's World Cup may be over after picking up a hamstring injury in training

"We'll assess that as we go, certainly he'll be around, rehabbing and we'll see how the weekend goes with other injuries, etc and we'll assess how Robbie's going along the way also."

Price comes into strong Scotland side

Gregor Townsend has made 12 changes to the side that beat Romania as Scotland bid to upset the world No 1 side. Scotland have won just one of their last 13 meetings against Ireland, who are on a run of 16 Test matches unbeaten.

Ali Price comes into the starting XV to partner Finn Russell at half-back, with loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman and tighthead Zander Fagerson returning to the front row alongside hooker George Turner. Regular number nine Ben White has dropped out of the squad altogether.

Captain Jamie Ritchie returns to lead the team after going off with a concussion in the first half of the Tonga match a fortnight ago.

Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price; 1 Pierre Schoeman 2 George Turner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 7 Rory Darge 8 Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 WP Nel, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 Luke Crosbie, 22 George Horne, 23 Ollie Smith.

Scotland's Finn Russell shouts at his team-mates during a Rugby World Cup match between South Africa
Image: Finn Russell will play a key role for Scotland as they look for a momentous win on Saturday

What's the current state of play?

South Africa currently top the 'group of death', otherwise known as Pool B, but have played all of their fixtures.

It is unlikely, but not impossible, that Ireland and Scotland can advance with the Springboks missing out altogether.

Scotland would advance if they beat Ireland by at least 21 points while also claiming a bonus point. In this scenario, Ireland could still qualify in second place if they themselves secured a bonus point (by scoring at least four tries).

This would take all three teams to 15 points, with Scotland progressing top on points difference, and then Ireland on their head-to-head record against South Africa having beaten them earlier in the tournament.

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