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Andy Farrell resists calls for fresh faces as Ireland name 36-man squad to play Italy

By Ciarán Kennedy
Ireland's James Ryan and Johnny Sexton. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Andy Farrell has named an unchanged Ireland squad for Saturday’s game against Italy, ignoring calls to introduce some fresh faces in light of back-t0-back Six Nations defeats. The Ireland head coach has gone with the same group selected for the defeat to France, with Johnny Sexton, James Ryan and Conor Murray all named after missing that game through injury.


Ed Byrne, Ryan Baird and Jack Conan are all retained, with Quinn Roux and Caelan Doris having dropped out of the original squad named for rounds one and two due to injury. Peter O’Mahony also misses out through suspension.

Having lost their opening two fixtures there were growing calls for Farrell to experiment with his team for Saturday’s trip to play Italy, but the head coach has resisted the temptation to change things up.

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That means there is no place for Leinster out-half Harry Byrne or Connacht 10 Jack Carty, despite Ireland’s struggles with the position, as Farrell has instead kept faith with Billy Burns and Ross Byrne alongside captain Sexton.

There is also no room for Munster’s in-form backrow Gavin Coombes, who had been part of the initial squad before being replaced by Jack Conan ahead of the France game.

Murray is also named after missing the France game with a hamstring problem. Jamison Gibson-Park and the uncapped Craig Casey also return, ahead of Leinster’s Luke McGrath, Connacht Kieran Marmion and Ulster scrum-half John Cooney.

In now looks likely that Farrell will go with a familiar looking team for Saturday’s game, as Ireland look to get back to winning ways.


IRELAND (squad to play Italy)

Bundee Aki (Connacht) 30 caps
Billy Burns (Ulster) 5 caps
Ross Byrne (Leinster) 12 caps
Craig Casey (Munster) uncapped
Andrew Conway (Munster) 24 caps
Shane Daly (Munster) 1 cap
Keith Earls (Munster) 90 caps
Chris Farrell (Munster) 14 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 7 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster) 49 caps
Hugo Keenan (Leinster) 8 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 26 caps
James Lowe (Leinster) 4 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) 4 caps
Conor Murray (Munster) 88 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster) 32 caps
Jonathan Sexton (Leinster) 96 caps

Ryan Baird (Leinster) uncapped
Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 19 caps
Ed Byrne (Leinster) 4 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster) 17 caps
Will Connors (Leinster) 7 caps
Ultan Dillane (Connacht) 18 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster) 46 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster) 106 caps
Dave Heffernan (Connacht) 5 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster) 60 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster) 18 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster) 8 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster) 40 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster) uncapped
Andrew Porter (Leinster) 34 caps
Rhys Ruddock (Leinster) 27 caps
James Ryan (Leinster) 33 caps
CJ Stander (Munster) 48 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster) 30 caps


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