Ireland boss Andy Farrell dismisses suggestions of a disciplinary issue with Mack Hansen after star winger returns to starting line-up for Tonga clash after initially being left out of Romania game
- Mack Hansen has been restored to Ireland’s starting line-up for Tonga clash
- The winger came off the bench in Ireland’s rout of Romania last weekend
- He had been left out of the match-day squad before Robbie Henshaw withdrew
Andy Farrell has hit back at suggestions of a disciplinary issue with Mack Hansen, with the star winger part of a near-full strength Irish team named for the clash with Tonga on Saturday.
Hansen came off the bench in Ireland’s rout of Romania last weekend, but had initially been left out of the match-day squad, the only regular player not included.
When Robbie Henshaw withdrew on the eve of that game with a hamstring issue, Hansen was promoted to the bench and made his tournament debut as a second-half replacement.
He will make his full World Cup bow as part of Ireland’s first-choice back three in a team that is close to Farrell’s preferred starting 15.
Johnny Sexton starts at out-half and is just 10 points shy of Ronan O’Gara’s Irish record.
Winger Mack Hansen has been restored to Ireland’s starting line-up for Tonga clash
Ireland boss Andy Farrell has hit back at suggestions of a disciplinary issue with Hansen
First-choice props Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong, like Sexton irreplaceable players for Farrell, are also included, with Farrell trusting that his strongest team can front up three weeks in a row, with South Africa looming in Paris on Saturday week.
The return of Hansen was accompanied by a robust dismissal of any issues by Farrell.
‘Was it you who kept on asking the question last week? Where the hell did all that come from?’ Farrell asked a journalist at the team announcement.
The head coach was then asked why Hansen was initially left out of the squad for that Romanian game.
‘Because we wanted to give someone else a game, as simple as that,’ he replied.
‘And, case in point, actually, as far as everyone being ready to go, it’s exactly the same this weekend.
‘So if Robbie (Henshaw) pulls up on Friday (before the Romania match) and Mack is covering three different positions off the bench and did superbly for that, that’s the type of thing that needs to happen within a World Cup.’
IRELAND TEAM TO FACE TONGA
H Keenan; M Hansen, G Ringrose, B Aki, J Lowe; J Sexton (capt), C Murray; A Porter, R Kelleher, T Furlong; T Beirne, J Ryan; P O’Mahony, J van der Flier, C Doris.
Replacements: R Herring, D Kilcoyne, F Bealham, I Henderson, R Baird, C Casey, R Byrne, R Henshaw.
Kick off: 8pm, Saturday