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The 'very strange' omission from Andy Farrell's Ireland 23

By Ian Cameron
Press Association

Trending on RugbyPass

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While Johnny Sexton being restored to Ireland’s starting XV made the headlines this morning ahead of their showdown with England, one omission has left many Ireland fans scratching their heads.

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Sexton’s return was one of six changes for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations match – and hardly a surprising one at that.

It’s elsewhere that offers the intrigue. Mack Hansen, Michael Lowry and Ryan Baird have been cut completely from Farrell’s matchday squad.

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Hansen in particular stands out. The Australian-born winger has been a standout for Ireland this Six Nations.

For Farrell it seems the power of James Lowe and the experience of Andrew Conway have won out and cost the rookie his spot, with versatile British & Irish Lion Robbie Henshaw named at No.23 on the bench.

Farrell had talked up Hansen earlier in the tournament. The ex-Brumbie winger, who made his debut against Wales in Round 1 and scored a stunning try against France in Round 2, had Farrell tipping him to “make things happen” in Europe’s flagship tournament after scoring tries for fun with his Connacht.

Rugby commentator Nick Mullins wrote: “Tough on the likes of Mack Hansen, Michael Lowry, James Hume & Ryan Baird, but they now have first-hand knowledge of just how high Ireland are setting the bar.”

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Fans were not convinced of the decision. “Mack Hansen isn’t in the Ireland 23 to face England. This is a very strange call by Andy Farrell. Can’t wait to hear his reason of course it will be some BS about numbers or something like that,” wrote one irate fan.

“Very strong team for Saturday..think Mack Hansen is very unlucky not to be involved in the matchday 23,he didn’t do much wrong in the last 3 games,” wrote another.

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“Cannot understand why Mack Hansen isn’t it this squad, unless it’s injury related. Gutted for Ryan Baird who has been phenomenal, Craig Casey should be on that bench. For me he should be Ireland 2nd choice scrum half,” posted another miffed supporter. “A bit disappointed in this team.”

The 23-year-old who represented Australia at Under 20 level and is eligibile through his Cork-born mother.

Ireland team to play England in the Guinness Six Nations at Twickenham, London on Saturday, March 12:

H Keenan (Leinster), A Conway (Munster), G Ringrose (Leinster), B Aki (Connacht), J Lowe (Leinster); J Sexton (Leinster, capt), J Gibson-Park (Leinster); C Healy (Leinster), D Sheehan (Leinster), T Furlong (Leinster), T Beirne (Munster), J Ryan (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), J Van Der Flier (Leinster), C Doris (Leinster).

Replacements: R Herring (Ulster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), F Bealham (Connacht), I Henderson (Ulster), J Conan (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), J Carbery (Munster), R Henshaw (Leinster).

additional reporting AAP

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