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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 24 January, 2019
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Capped Bent, Keatley and captain Ruddock start for Emerging Ireland

Head coach Allen Clarke has picked a side with a blend of youth and Pro12 experience.

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

MUNSTER OUT-HALF Ian Keatley will take the reins of the Emerging Ireland side as they take on Georgia in the Tbilisi Cup tomorrow evening (KO 4pm Irish time.)

The number 10′s two previous Ireland caps arrived at this stage four years ago when he was part of the international tour to North America during the Lions trip to South Africa. This time around, coach Allen Clarke has selected Ulster’s Michael Heaney as his half-back partner.

Leinster back-row Rhys Ruddock, capped once in 2010, will captain the side with his provincial team-mate Dominic Ryan at openside and Robbie Diack at number eight.

Michael Bent is the third capped international to start against the powerful Georgians less than eight months after making his debut against South Africa. He joins Jack McGrath and Rob Herring in the front row while Lewis Stevenson and David Foley make up the pack.

Behind the scrum Leicester’s Niall Morris will hope to impress further after helping the Tigers to the Premiership title last month. He will play outside a midfield of Michael Allen and Eoin Griffin with Tiernan O’Halloran and Dave Kearney making up the back three.

Munster-bound Andrew Conway will not feature in the game due to a calf injury sustained in training. With three games in nine days, he looks unlikely to play any part in the tournament and Peter Nelson has been called into the squad as cover.

“The squad has gelled and prepared well,” Clarke said. “It’s a young side and there is huge potential there. The Georgian side are very physical and we have to match that.”

Emerging Ireland (v Georgia) : David Kearney (Leinster); Niall Morris (Leicester), Eoin Griffin Connacht), Michael Allen (Ulster), Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht); Ian Keatley (Munster), Michael Heaney (Ulster): Jack McGrath (Leinster), Robert Herring (Ulster), Michael Bent (Leinster); Lewis Stevenson (Ulster), David Foley (Munster); Rhys Ruddock CAPT (Leinster), Dominic Ryan (Leinster), Robbie Diack (Ulster).

Replacements: Niall Annett (Ulster), Ricky Lutton (Ulster), Ian Nagle (Munster), Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Noel Reid, Brendan Macken (all Leinster).

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Sean Farrell

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