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James Lowe gets the nod as Ireland name their team for Six Nations opener

Andy Farrell has opted for five Leinster backs in his starting XV while Josh Van Der Flier gets selected at openside.

James Lowe will start tomorrow.
James Lowe will start tomorrow.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ANDY FARRELL’S WILLINGNESS to take risks with his team-selections was evident today, when he named James Lowe in his starting XV to play Wales on Sunday, with Jordan Larmour relegated to the bench.

Lowe, the New Zealander who qualifies for Ireland through the residency rule, made a try-scoring debut against the Welsh in November,  before struggling a week later in the defeat to England.

He has been injured since, but despite his inactivity, Farrell has opted to include him in the team alongside Hugo Keenan and Keith Earls in his back three.

The midfield partnership is an all-Leinster combo, Robbie Henshaw winning the fight for the inside centre slot ahead of Bundee Aki, with Garry Ringrose edging out Chris Farrell for the No13 jersey. 

At half-back, captain Johnny Sexton hooks up yet again with Conor Murray – one of two Munster men in the backline.

In the pack, the big selection debate focused on the backrow, where Josh Van Der Flier won the nod over fellow Leinster flanker, Will Connors. Munster captain, Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander partner Van Der Flier.

James Ryan and Tadhg Beirne were named in the second row, which was widely anticipated, while the front row selection of Cian Healy, Rob Herring and Andrew Porter was also expected. Complimenting this selection is the considerable presence of Dave Kilcoyne and Tadhg Furlong on the bench.

Among the remaining replacements, Iain Henderson’s name stands out, while there are also spots for hooker, Ronan Kelleher, Connors, scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park, Ulster out-half, Billy Burns, and Larmour.


15: Hugo Keenan

14: Keith Earls

13: Garry Ringrose

12: Robbie Henshaw

11: James Lowe

10: Johnny Sexton

9: Conor Murray

1: Cian Healy

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2: Rob Herring

3: Andrew Porter

4: Tadhg Beirne

5: James Ryan

6: Peter O’Mahony

7: Josh Van Der Flier

8: CJ Stander


16: Ronan Kelleher

17: Dave Kilcoyne

18: Tadhg Furlong

19: Iain Henderson

20: Will Connors

21: Jamison-Gibson Park

22: Billy Burns

23: Jordan Larmour

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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