Six Nations: Andy Farrell has named his Ireland team to play Wales
Andy Farrell has named an Ireland side to play Wales in this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations showing three changes from the team that started last time out versus Australia in the Autumn Nations Series. The Irish won that November encounter 13-10 at Aviva Stadium but they will now line out against the Welsh 11 weeks later with a selection containing two backline alterations and one more in the pack.
It’s the switch in the forwards that will raise the most eyebrows as Tadhg Furlong hasn’t recovered from his recent injury to retain his regular spot as the starting tighthead. The No3 jersey has now been taken by Finlay Bealham, with Tom O’Toole providing cover from the bench.
In the backs, skipper Johnny Sexton is restored to the starting out-half berth following the pre-match drama of him hurting his calf muscle versus the Wallabies, a situation that resulted in Jack Crowley being pressed into emergency action for his first Ireland start and only his second cap.
Ross Byrne, who stepped off the bench in that November game to kick the winning penalty, will provide the bench back-up to Sexton versus the Welsh, with Crowley scratched from the match day 23.
The other XV change sees the fit-again James Lowe named at left wing, with Jimmy O’Brien missing out. On the bench, Iain Henderson is now the second row sub in place of Joe McCarthy while Conor Murray has taken the No21 jersey worn last time by Craig Casey.
The Ireland team announcement from Portugal coincided with the Thursday lunchtime development in Cardiff that Liam Williams has replaced Leigh Halfpenny as the starting Wales full-back due to a back spasm while the Principality Stadium roof will be closed for Saturday’s match.
Ireland (vs Wales, Saturday)
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 25 caps
14. Mack Hansen (Connacht) 8 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 47 caps
12. Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 9 caps
11. James Lowe (Leinster) 15 caps
10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 109 caps (c)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster) 23 caps
1. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 48 caps
2. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 13 caps
3. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 27 caps
4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 36 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 48 caps
6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 89 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 45 caps
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 23 caps
16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 31 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 121 caps
18. Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 4 caps
19. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 68 caps
20. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 33 caps
21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 100 caps
22. Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 4 caps
23. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 41 caps
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