Uncapped Loughman to start as Ireland make nine changes for Fiji
Andy Farrell has named an Ireland team to face Fiji on Saturday that has nine changes from the XV that defeated South Africa, with the uncapped prop Jeremy Loughman set for a debut start while fellow rookies Cian Prendergast and Jack Crowley are in line to make their Test debuts from the bench.
The six players Farrell has retained in his starting team are centre Stuart McCloskey, wings Robert Baloucone and Mack Hansen, tighthead Tadhg Furlong, lock Tadhg Beirne and back-rower Caelan Doris, who will start at blindside instead of last Saturday’s No8 role.
Furlong has been named as skipper and he will become the 109th player to captain Ireland. The last prop to have this responsibility was Simon Best against Argentina in 2007.
Elsewhere in the XV, Robbie Henshaw has recovered from the hamstring issue that ruled him out late from starting against the Springboks. He takes over from the benched Garry Ringrose. while Jimmy O’Brien, the rookie who made his Test debut off the bench due to that emergency injury reshuffle, will start at full-back for Hugo Keenan.
In the pack, Loughman will debut at loosehead in place of Andrew Porter, Rob Herring is at hooker for Dan Sheehan, Kieran Treadwell is starting his first match at lock in five years in place of James Ryan, while the back row sees Nick Timoney and Jack Conan picked in place of the rested Josh van der Flier and Peter O’Mahony. On the bench, Tom O’Toole, Max Deegan and Craig Casey are new to this week’s matchday 23 along with uncapped duo Prendergast and Crowley.
Ireland (vs Fiji, Saturday)
15. Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas) 1 cap
14. Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 3 caps
13. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 60 caps
12. Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 7 caps
11. Mack Hansen (Connacht/Corinthians) 7 caps
10. Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 36 caps
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster) 21 caps
1. Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen)*
2. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 29 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 61 caps CAPTAIN
4. Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 9 caps
5. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 34 caps
6. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 21 caps
7. Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
8. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 31 caps
16. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 11 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 119 caps
18. Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 3 caps
19. Cian Prendergast (Connacht/Galwegians)*
20. Max Deegan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 1 cap
21. Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 5 caps
22. Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution)*
23. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 45 caps
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