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Ireland make 12 changes to their team to face Wales

Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Keith Earls are all set to prove their fitness for Ireland’s World Cup campaign after being included in the Ireland XV to face Wales on Saturday in Dublin.

A mixed strength Irish XV secured a victory over the Welsh last Saturday prior to Joe Schmidt confirming his 31 for the World Cup on Monday. 

Now, with Wales having made 15 changes to their team for the rematch in Dublin, Schmidt has responded in kind by rolling out the majority of his biggest names in a team showing 12 changes from Cardiff. 

The presence of Sexton, Henshaw and Earls in the back line will be massive fillip for Irish fans as it was feared they would be left under-cooked for the World Cup opener against Scotland on September 22 in Yokohama if they failed to play any part in Ireland’s four-match warm-up series which concludes this Saturday, 15 days before their big tournament opener.  

The XV for the Aviva Stadium includes just three players – James Ryan, Jack Conan and Bundee Aki – who started in the win last weekend.  

(Continue reading below…)

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Cian Healy will be joined in the front row by skipper Rory Best – who is playing his last Test match in Dublin – and Tadhg Furlong, with Ryan and Jean Kleyn – who got in for RWC ahead of Devin Toner – backing them up from the second row.

The back row will see CJ Stander revert to blindside, the position he used to regularly occupy before Jamie Heaslip’s retirement opened up a vacancy at No8. Josh van der Flier and Conan complete the pack.   

Sexton’s first run of the season will come alongside Conor Murray, Aki will partner Henshaw in the midfield, with Earls joined in the back three by Jordan Larmour and Rob Kearney.

IRELAND (v Wales, Saturday)

15. Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 91 caps

14. Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 15 caps

13. Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 37 caps

12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 19 caps

11. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 77 caps

10. Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 83 caps

9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 73 caps

1. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 90 caps

2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 119 caps CAPTAIN

3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 35 caps

4. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 18 caps

5. Jean Kleyn (Munster) 2 caps

6. CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 32 caps

7. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 18 caps

8. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 15 caps

Replacements

16. Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 69 caps

17. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 30 caps

18. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps

19. Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 47 caps

20. Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 22

21. Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 13 caps

22. Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 6 caps

23. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps

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Ireland make 12 changes to their team to face Wales