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7 changes for Ireland against Wales, debut cap for Lowe

By Liam Heagney
Leinster wing James Lowe. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Andy Farrell has named uncapped James Lowe in an Ireland XV to face Wales on Friday night that shows seven changes from the Six Nations title-losing defeat to France on October 31.


New Zealander Lowe recently qualified under the three-year residency rule and he will now hope to bring his potency with Leinster – 33 tries in 49 matches – into the Test level arena when Ireland begin their four-match Autumn Nations Cup campaign at Aviva Stadium.

The inclusion of Lowe on the left wing has resulted in Hugo Keenan switching to the right wing, with Andrew Conway losing out. Jacob Stockdale holds on at full-back despite his troubled form at the Stade de France.

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Johnny Sexton says that Ireland must improve after their third-place Six Nations finish
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Johnny Sexton says that Ireland must improve after their third-place Six Nations finish

While it was anticipated that Lowe would debut against the Welsh, less predicted was the dropping of Bundee Aki and Conor Murray, two mainstays of the Joe Schmidt era inherited at the start of 2020 by promoted coach Farrell.

Robbie Henshaw switches from outside centre to Aki’s No12 jersey, with Chris Farrell, a replacement in France, in at No13. Jamison Gibson-Park, another Kiwi who qualified under residency, made his debut off the bench in last month’s win over Italy and he now stars alongside Johnny Sexton in place of Murray. 

In the pack, Ronan Kelleher comes in for a first Test start alongside Leinster teammates Cian Healy and Andrew Porter while Iain Henderson is back from suspension and replaces Tadhg Beirne at lock. 


An altered back row sees Peter O’Mahony and Josh van der Flier recalled with Caelan Doris moving to No8. Will Connors and CJ Stander lose out. 

The uncapped Billy Burns will be looking to win his first cap as he named in the replacements alongside Murray and the returning Keith Earls. The replacement forwards are Dave Heffernan, Ed Byrne, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux and Connors.

IRELAND (vs Wales, Friday)

15. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 30 caps


14. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 2 caps

13. Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 10 caps

12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 45 caps

11. James Lowe (Leinster) uncapped

10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 93 caps (capt)

9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 2 caps

1. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 100 caps

2. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 3 caps

3. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 28 caps

4. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 55 caps

5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 28 caps

6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 69 caps

7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 26 caps

8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 4 caps


16. Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 3 caps

17. Ed Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 2 caps

18. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 11 caps

19. Quinn Roux (Connacht/Galwegians) 12 caps

20. Will Connors (Leinster/UCD) 2 caps

21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 83 caps

22. Billy Burns (UIster) uncapped

23. Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 84 caps


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