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James Hume, atypical Irish center, should start against Italy - Andy Dunne

Andy Dunne is intrigued by the prospect of James Hume starting for Ireland against Italy.

Ireland face Italy in the Six Nations this week and Andy Dunne joined Wednesday Night Rugby to discuss James Hume.

Ireland won't win the Grand Slam this year. They likely won't win the Championship either.

That loss to France in Paris means that the continental side are in pole position to win the tournament. France are amongst the most talented teams in the world. They beat Ireland in impressive fashion and did the same to New Zealand in November. Coming second to them is no reason for embarrassment.

But France are also notoriously inconsistent.

On Saturday, they will travel to face Scotland. While Scotland are coming off a desperately disappointing loss in Cardiff, they started the tournament with a good win at home against England. Scotland beat France in Paris last season so they're hoping to build a streak at home this season.

If they pull off that upset, then Ireland are suddenly back in championship contention. Since France already played Italy and won 37-10, Ireland can take advantage and eclipse that score at home on Sunday. But they'll need France to lose first before any consideration of that can be undertaken.

Ireland are unlikely to make wholesale changes to their regular starting team. Who starts at out-half will be a big question. But wholesale changes do make sense in the centers.

Robbie Henshaw is returning from an injury that kept him on the bench against France. Garry Ringrose and Bundee Aki have both played plenty of rugby, so neither will suffer from missing out on a game against Italy. That gives Ireland the opportunity to pair Henshaw with James Hume of Ulster.

When asked who he wants to see play this weekend, former out-half Andy Dunne picked Hume as the player he's most interested in.

"He's a really non-typical Irish center," Dunne said.

"He has a bit of Jeremy Guscott in him, he has a nice running style, he's got good footwork, he's a good distributor and he's physically very strong. Deceptively strong. He's not your typical Irish center, I grew up watching Philip Danaher and Maurice Field...Brendan Mullen in the 80s was this bit more of a football player...Hume is a graceful type player but he's also physical."

The young Ulster man has been a standout at provincial level for some time now. He's the ideal outside center partner to Stuart McCloskey because of his ability to cut through lines, make angled runs off the ball and beat defenders one-on-one. While Ireland have been blessed with center depth, Hume is the first of recent options to come through who mimic Garry Ringrose more than an inside center.

Since Henshaw is adept at outside and inside center, Ireland have never been wanting for an alternate 13. Hume offers Andy Farrell a luxury that he hasn't previously had.

"He's got a lot of football in him. We've got an embarrassment of riches at the moment there. Henshaw benching. Ringrose playing super rugby. One of the things I took away from the Welsh game was Bundee Aki's distribution, his passing was superb.

"Hume...I wouldn't mind seeing him get a run against Italy."

Iain Henderson to miss Italy game because of Covid


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Andy Farrell Bundee Aki Garry Ringrose Ireland Rugby James Hume Robbie Henshaw Six Nations Rugby Ulster Rugby