With Ireland’s March 7 Guinness Six Nations match at home to Italy set to now be postponed, Andy Farrell has released Ultan Dillane and David Heffernan from his squad so that they can travel to South Africa with Connacht.

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The Irish province have a Guinness PRO14 match in Port Elizabeth next Sunday versus the Southern Kings and while Six Nations have yet to officially postpone the following weekend’s Ireland-Italy Test match, Farrell has opted to realise the pair on Wednesday after they were initially included in a 28-strong squad for training in Dublin later this week. 

Dillane had featured off the bench in last Sunday’s comprehensive loss to England in London, his first cap since a championship appearance last March versus France.

Farrell’s squad update arrived a few hours after the IRFU claimed it had a positive meeting on Wednesday with Irish government health minister Simon Harris.

The IRFU were formally advised by the National Public Health Emergency team that the series of matches with Italy – men’s, women’s and under-20s scheduled for Dublin and Cork on the weekend of March 6-8 – should not proceed in the interests of public health due to the threatened spread of the coronavirus.

A statement read: “We will immediately begin to work with our Six Nations partners to look at the possibility of rescheduling the matches and would hope to have an update on this in the coming days.”

WATCH: The Rugby Pod rounds up all last weekend’s Guinness Six Nations and Gallagher Premiership action

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