Ireland team v Italy named as Hugo Keenan and Will Connors to start Six Nations clash

Hugo Keenan (Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland)

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Leinster pair Hugo Keenan and Will Connors will earn their senior Test debuts in Ireland's Six Nations clash with Italy on Saturday.

And two other Leinster players, Ed Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park, are expected to make their Ireland bows off the bench at the Aviva Stadium.

In for the injured Jordan Larmour, Jacob Stockdale gets the nod at full-back having played the majority of his rugby with Ulster in the no 15 jersey since the end of lockdown.

Keenan, 24, gets his chance on the wing, where he has been outstanding for Leinster since Irish rugby's restart, with Andrew Conway bringing his experience, pace and nous to the back three.

Ireland boss Andy Farrell has gone with in-form centres Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose, with Robbie Henshaw providing back up from the bench. 

Skipper Johnny Sexton has recovered from a thigh problem in time to start at out-half, with Conor Murray as expected alongside him, with Ross Byrne and Gibson-Park providing half-back cover.

In the pack, Ronan Kelleher is deemed not fit enough to start or provide cover at hooker, so Rob Herring starts and Dave Heffernan is among the replacements.

The starting props are Cian Healy and Andrew Porter, with Ed Byrne and Finlay Bealham primed to see action at some stage.

In the absence of the suspended Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne gets the nod to partner James Ryan in the second row. Ultan Dillane is in reserve.

In the back row, Caelan Doris – who played at no 8 in the his first two Six Nations appearances in the spring – starts as blindside flanker in place of Peter O'Mahony, who only resumed training on Sunday after self-isolating as a close contact to a Covid case.

The tough-tacking Connors makes his first appearance at this level at openside, and in-form CJ Stander is at no 8, with O'Mahony waiting in the wings.

Ireland: Stockdale, Conway, Ringrose, Aki, Keenan, Sexton, Murray; Healy, Herring, Porter, Beirne, Ryan, Doris, Connors, Stander.

Replacements: Heffernan, E Byrne, Bealham, Dillane, O'Mahony, Gibson-Park, R Byrne, Henshaw.

Veröffentlicht am Kategorien Sport