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Conan and Toner set to start for Ireland with Larmour on the bench

Joe Schmidt could make a number of changes up front for the Six Nations clash with Italy.

Updated at 15.50

JOE SCHMIDT IS set to make a number of changes to his starting team for Ireland’s clash with Italy in the Six Nations in Dublin on Saturday.

After the Irish pack delivered a mammoth effort in Paris last weekend, it appears likely that head coach Schmidt will rotate a number of players up front, while openside Josh van der Flier has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Jack Conan celebrates scoring their third try Jack Conan looks set to start for Ireland. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Van der Flier’s absence looks to have opened the door for Dan Leavy to start after his impressive performance off the bench against France, while Leinster’s Jack Conan could come in for CJ Stander at number eight after the Munster man had a huge workload last time out.

It was always likely that Schmidt would rotate his loosehead props during this championship, and it seems that Jack McGrath could come in for Cian Healy in the number one shirt this weekend.

In the second row, Devin Toner is set to return to the starting team, with James Ryan possibly making way. It’s understood the Leinster second row has been carrying a groin issue this week and Ireland may not risk aggravating that niggle after Ryan’s superb Six Nations debut against les Bleus.

Otherwise, Schmidt may look to retain a largely settled team as Ireland attempt to ensure they come away from this game with a bonus point, England and Wales both having secured five-point wins on the opening weekend of the Six Nations.

There are likely to be a handful of further changes on the Irish bench, though, and it looks like 20-year-old Leinster flyer Jordan Larmour will be included in an Ireland matchday squad for the first time.

There would be huge excitement if Schmidt names Larmour in his squad, given his exceptional form at fullback and on the wing for his province.

Jordan Larmour Larmour has been in sensational form. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Sean Cronin and Healy could be joined as the front row replacements by Andrew Porter as Schmidt looks to continue to add to the 22-year-old tighthead’s experience at this level, while Quinn Roux is set to bench if Ryan is not fit.

Stander may remain in the matchday squad, while Joey Carbery is likely to get a lengthy run-out if Ireland manage to build a lead. The replacement scrum-half spot may see a change, with Kieran Marmion and Luke McGrath locked in a fierce battle to back-up Conor Murray.

Schmidt is due to officially name his 23-man squad at 1.45pm tomorrow.

Possible Ireland team v Italy:

15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. Iain Henderson
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Dan Leavy
8. Jack Conan

Replacements:

16. Sean Cronin
17. Cian Healy
18. Andrew Porter
19. Quinn Roux
20. CJ Stander
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Joey Carbery
23. Jordan Larmour

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Murray Kinsella

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