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Ireland XV to play Japan shows 11 changes from win over England

By Liam Heagney

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Andy Farrell has changed eleven of the starting Ireland XV to face Japan this Saturday in Dublin 15 weeks after England were beaten at the Aviva Stadium in the final round of the Guinness Six Nations. The four starters who remain from that impressive March victory are Hugo Keenan, Jacob Stockdale, Dave Kilcoyne and Josh van der Flier.

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With Ireland having seven players away with the Lions in South Africa, CJ Stander now retired and veteran pair Johnny Sexton and Keith Earls both given the summer off, Farrell was always going to make wholesale changes to his line-up.

One familiar face who is back in the mix, however, is James Ryan. He missed the finale to the Six Nations with a concussion and while a soft tissue injury last week ruled him out from consideration by the Lions to possibly replace the injured Alun Wyn Jones over the weekend, he has now shaken off that injury and will skipper the team against the Japanese.

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Conor Murray gives his first interview as Lions tour captain in South Africa
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Conor Murray gives his first interview as Lions tour captain in South Africa

Four of the bench from the England win are also promoted to the starting line-up – Ronan Kelleher, who was with the Lions for their training camp in Jersey, Peter O’Mahony, Jamison Gibson-Park and Jordan Larmour.

The most exciting inclusion, however, is the restoration of Joey Carbery at out-half following his horrible run of injury. The 25-year-old earned the last of his 22 caps in the October 2019 World Cup quarter-final hammering by New Zealand.

Other intriguing XV selections are Finlay Bealham, Caelan Doris and Stuart McCloskey. Bealham had a terrible afternoon at the scrum when he was last capped versus Georgia in the Autumn Nations Cup, Doris has managed to overcome a worrying layoff with concussion while McCloskey is also back in the mix following the problems caused for him by the Georgians eight months ago.

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John Ryan and Rob Herring are the most experienced players on an experimental bench where back-rower Gavin Coombes is set for a debut cap

IRELAND (vs Japan, Saturday)
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 11 caps
14. Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 29 caps
13. Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 14 caps
12. Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 4 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 34 caps
10. Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 22 caps
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 9 caps
1. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 43 caps
2. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 11 caps
3. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 14 caps
4. Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 18 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 35 caps captain
6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 75 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 31 caps
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/UCD) 7 caps

Replacements
16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 21 caps
17. Ed Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 4 caps
18. John Ryan (Munster/Cork Constitution) 23 caps
19. Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 3 caps
20. Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) uncapped
21. Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 1 cap
22. Billy Burns (Ulster) 6 caps
23. Shane Daly (Munster/Cork Constitution) 1 cap

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Ireland XV to play Japan shows 11 changes from win over England

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