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Schmidt set to hand Healy his RWC starting chance against Romania

The 27-year-old loosehead hasn’t started for Joe Schmidt’s side since March.

CIAN HEALY IS set for his first Ireland start since March in Sunday’s World Cup pool clash with Romania at Wembley.

The 27-year-old loosehead prop made his return from neck surgery off the bench during last weekend’s win over Canada in Cardiff and now looks likely to feature from the start in Ireland’s second group-stage clash.

Cian Healy Healy is set to get his starting chance this weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The looming prospect of taking on France on 11 October may be in the back of Joe Schmidt’s mind as he gives Healy a chance to improve his match fitness.

Healy is set to be joined by Richardt Strauss and Nathan White in an Ireland front row that will be tested by the Romanian scrum, while Devin Toner and Donnacha Ryan are likely to form an experienced second row pairing.

In the back row, Jamie Heaslip’s leadership is likely to be retained with Paul O’Connell rested, while Chris Henry and Jordi Murphy are set to make their first World Cup starts at openside and blindside respectively.

Eoin Reddan looks likely to take over from Conor Murray at scrum-half, while one of Paddy Jackson and Ian Madigan are set to start at out-half if Schmidt opts to take Johnny Sexton out of the firing line against the 17th-ranked Romania.

In the centres, Darren Cave is set to be provided with a starting chance should Robbie Henshaw fail to prove his fitness ahead of the weekend, with Keith Earls also pressing for a start in the centre.

Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe may get their opportunities in the back three, possibly along with Luke Fitzgerald, although Schmidt might be tempted to give Rob Kearney another opportunity to build fitness.

Ireland name their matchday 23 at 12.45pm tomorrow.

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Murray Kinsella

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