Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
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CJ Stander earns Ireland debut, Zebo starts at fullback against Wales
The South African-born back row is the only uncapped player in Ireland’s 23 to take on Wales.

SOUTH AFRICAN-BORN Munster captain CJ Stander will make his international debut with Ireland against Wales this Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

The powerful back row was named to start at blindside in Joe Schmidt’s first line-up of the year after Sean O’Brien picked up a hamstring issue midweek.

Stander’s provincial team-mate Tommy O’Donnell is the direct beneficiary of O’Brien’s injury as he slots in at openside flanker while Jamie Heaslip continues at number eight behind Leinster locks Devin Toner and Mike McCarthy.

The front row is as expected with Jack McGrath and Nathan White propping up captain Rory Best due to injuries to both Cian Healy and Mike Ross.

Hamstring injury in the back-line has prompted change too. Rob Kearney misses out after suffering with glute and hamstring problems since the World Cup. Simon Zebo picks up the number 15 jersey in his absence with Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw renewing their centre partnership and Andrew Trimble named to start after being left out of the World Cup squad and not called up despite the injury to Payne.

In all, the starting line-up shows eight changes from both the team who beat France in the RWC Pool D decider in October and nine from the side who was blown away by Argentina a week later. Most of the changes are enforced. Jordi Murphy, Ian Madigan and Dave Kearney are the men who started the quarter-final loss but are not selected to start this weekend, though the latter two are among the replacements..

Ireland (v Wales: Sunday 3pm)

15. Simon Zebo
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Jared Payne
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Keith Earls
10. Jonathan Sexton
9. Conor Murray

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1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best
3. Nathan White
4. Devin Toner
5. Mike McCarthy
6. CJ Stander
7. Tommy O’Donnell
8. Jamie Heaslip


16. Sean Cronin
17. James Cronin
18. Tadhg Furlong
19. Donnacha Ryan
20. Rhys Ruddock
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Ian Madigan
23. Dave Kearney

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