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Baird and Casey in line for debuts off bench as Ireland make seven changes

Tadhg Furlong will make his first Test start in a year against Italy on Saturday.

Ryan Baird and Craig Casey are set for their debuts off the bench.
Ryan Baird and Craig Casey are set for their debuts off the bench.

IRELAND HEAD COACH Andy Farrell has made seven changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Italy in Rome [KO 2.15pm].

There is an all-new front row for Ireland as Tadhg Furlong make his first Test start in a year, while 23-year-old Ronan Kelleher and Munster man Dave Kilcoyne also get the nod. 

James Ryan returns from a head injury in the second row, meaning Tadhg Beirne shifts into the back row, where Leinster openside Will Connors comes into the team. Rhys Ruddock misses out after starting against France. 

Captain Johnny Sexton is fit again after his head injury and returns to lead the side, with Farrell sticking with Jamison Gibson-Park in the number nine shirt as Conor Murray is ruled out again with his hamstring injury. 

There is a final change in the Ireland back three as Jordan Larmour comes in on the right wing in place of Keith Earls, who drops to the bench, with Larmour’s inclusion making it an all-Leinster backline.

Also included among the replacements are the uncapped lock Ryan Baird and scrum-half Craig Casey, who was an unused sub last time out against France. Both youngsters will hope for their debuts in Rome. 

Jack Conan also comes onto the Ireland bench and will hope to make an impact for Farrell’s side as they look for their first win of the 2021 Six Nations.

Ireland (v Italy):

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15. Hugo Keenan
14. Jordan Larmour
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. James Lowe
10. Johnny Sexton (captain)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Ronan Kelleher
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Iain Henderson
5. James Ryan
6. Tadhg Beirne
7. Will Connors
8. CJ Stander

Replacements:

16. Rob Herring
17. Cian Healy
18. Andrew Porter
19. Ryan Baird
20. Jack Conan
21. Craig Casey
22. Billy Burns
23. Keith Earls.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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