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Ireland change seven for their Italian job

By Liam Heagney

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Andy Farrell has made seven changes to his Ireland team to play Italy on Saturday in Rome in round three of the Guinness Six Nations following their February 14 13-15 home defeat to France in Dublin. Two alterations come in the backs with Jordan Larmour promoted from the bench to start in place of veteran Keith Earls who drops to the replacements, while fit-again skipper Johnny Sexton returns at out-half in place of Billy Burns.


In the pack, there is an entirely changed front row with Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong taking over from Cian Healy, Rob Herring and Andrew Porter who will all provide bench back-up in Rome.

In the second row, fit-again James Ryan returns to partner Iain Henderson, who signed a contract extension on Wednesday, and Tadhg Beirne switches to blindside in place of the excluded Rhys Ruddock.

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The other change comes at openside where Josh van der Flier loses out to Will Connors in a back row completed by CJ Stander. 

Two uncapped players are on the bench, Ryan Baird and Craig Casey who was an unused replacement against the French.

IRELAND (vs Italy, Saturday)
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 8 caps
14. Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 26 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 32 caps
12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 49 caps
11. James Lowe (Leinster) 4 caps
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 96 caps CAPTAIN
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 7 caps
1. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 40 caps
2. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 8 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 46 caps
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 60 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 33 caps
6. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 19 caps
7. Will Connors (Leinster/UCD) 7 caps
8. CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 48 caps


16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 18 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 106 caps
18. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 34 caps
19. Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) uncapped
20. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 17 caps
21. Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) uncapped
22. Billy Burns (Ulster) 5 caps
23. Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 90 caps

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Ireland change seven for their Italian job