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Ireland make six changes to XV after England loss, handing debuts to Keenan and Connors

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Andy Farrell has made six changes to his starting Ireland XV to face Italy on Saturday eight months after the 24-12 Six Nations loss to England at Twickenham in their last outing. Leinster winger Hugo Keenan and openside Will Connors come in for their Test level debuts, while Garry Ringrose, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne and Caelan Doris are all recalled. 


Jordan Larmour, who is ruled out until next February with a dislocated shoulder, sees his place at full-back taken by Jacob Stockdale, whose repositioning from the left wing opened up the slot for Keenan. In the Ireland midfield, Ringrose will step up for Six Nations duty to combine with Bundee Aki, with Robbie Henshaw dropping to the bench. 

Four of the six changes are in the pack. With Tadhg Furlong injured, Andrew Porter is promoted from the Twickenham bench while fit-again Tadhg Beirne comes in for Devin Toner, who was left out of the autumn squad named two weeks ago.

Video Spacer

James Ryan and Johnny Sexton look ahead to Ireland vs Italy
Video Spacer
James Ryan and Johnny Sexton look ahead to Ireland vs Italy

In the back row, Doris returns for his second start at the expense of the benched Peter O’Mahony. Doris’ debut lasted just four minutes against Scotland before he was concussed. Also in the back row, Connors comes in for club colleague Josh van der Flier.  

Ireland’s bench includes David Heffernan, the uncapped Ed Byrne, Finlay Bealham and Jamison Gibson-Park, another Test newcomer. Johnny Sexton will skipper the team after proving his fitness in training.

IRELAND (vs Italy, Saturday)


15. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 28 caps

14. Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 21 caps

13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 29 caps

12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 26 caps


11. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) uncapped

10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 91 caps CAPTAIN

9. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 81 caps

1. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 98 caps

2. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 11 caps

3. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 26 caps

4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 13 caps

5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 26 caps

6. Caelan Doris (Leinster/UCD) 2 caps

7. Will Connors (Leinster/UCD) uncapped

8. CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 41 caps


16. Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 1 cap

17. Ed Byrne (Leinster/UCD) uncapped

18. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Corinthians) 9 caps

19. Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 15 caps

20. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 67 caps

21. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) uncapped

22. Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 6 caps

23. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 43 caps


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