Ireland have resisted the opportunity to make a raft of changes by naming a strong side to face Italy in the Guinness Six Nations.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 22, 2019
In the pack there are four changes: Dave Kilcoyne starting at loosehead, while Sean Cronin is named at hooker with Cian Healy and Rory Best omitted from the the 23-man squad, with Joe Schmidt selecting Niall Scannell and Jack McGrath as the hooker and tighthead replacements.
Remarkably it will be Cronin’s first Six Nations start, despite having 67 caps to his name for Ireland.
In the second row James Ryan is also left out of the squad, Ultan Dillan and Quinn Roux form an all-Connacht second row, with Iain Henderson providing second row cover as the Ulster forward seeks to feature in his first Six Nations match of the season after injury..
Jack Conan loses his spot at number 8 and misses out on the squad, with Jordi Murphy given a chance to impress. Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien start either side of Ulster forward in the backrow. Josh van der Flier is on the bench.
Ireland team v Italy
15. Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 88 caps
14. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 74 caps
13. Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 4 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 14 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 16 caps
10. Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 80 caps (vc)
9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 69 caps
1. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 26 caps
2. Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 67 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 30 caps
4. Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 12 caps
5. Quinn Roux (Galwegians/Connacht) 10 caps
6. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 54 caps (c)
7. Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) 54 caps
8. Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 26 caps
16. Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 11 caps
17. Jack McGrath (St Marys College/Leinster) 53 caps
18. John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 16 caps
19. Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 42 caps
20. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 15 caps
21. John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 6 caps
22. Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht)*
23. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 10 caps
*denotes uncapped player
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