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Lowry and Lowe to start for Ireland against Italy, Murray dropped from 23

By Ian Cameron
reland players, from left, Michael Lowry, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan arrive for squad training at Carton House (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Ulster star Michael Lowry is in line to make his Ireland debut when Andy Farrell’s men take on Italy this weekend, while there’s also a start on the wing for Leinster’s James LoweRugbyPass understands.

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Lowry has been in sensational form for his home province, leading many to call for Farrell to blood the 23-year-old in this Guinness Six Nations campaign and set to be named at tomorrow’s team announcement.

Lowe, who has returned from injury, and his uncapped Leinster team-mate Jimmy O’Brien, were added to Farrell’s squad on Monday. The New Zealand-born winger is set to be named on the right-wing as the men in green took put Kieran Crowley’s Azzurri to the sword in the Aviva Stadium.

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Lowe, who has had an on-again, off-again start to his Test career, impressed during Leinter’s United Rugby Championship defeat of Ospreys last week – a 65 metre try the highlight of a scintillating cameo in the RDS.

In form Connacht winger Mack Hansen will retain his number 11 jersey, with Andrew Conway and Hugo Keenan making way for Lowe and Lowry respectively.

Elsewhere, Munster’s Conor Murray is set to drop out of the 23 entirely, with teammate Craig Casey set to be named on the bench.

Ireland’s Grand Slam dreams and nine-match winning streak were halted by the 30-24 loss, which put Les Bleus in pole position for championship glory.

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A fit-again Johnny Sexton is set to return to the 23 for the visit of the Italian to Dublin.

“We spoke about that if we win our last three games we’re guaranteed a Triple Crown,” Sexton said. “That would be a great thing and it’s guaranteed if we can win the last three.

“Of course, we’ll give ourselves a great shot at the title if we win our last three; France have to go to Scotland this week and then Wales and play a good England team in the Stade de France as well.”

After hosting the Italians in Dublin this weekend, Andy Farrell’s men – who began by defeating Wales – travel to England on March 12 before completing the tournament at home to Scotland a week later.

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Italy will run out at the Aviva Stadium bidding to avoid a 35th successive Six Nations loss.

– additional reporting PA

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