Van der Flier set to start for Ireland in Six Nations clash with Wales

The 27-year-old is set to team up with CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony.

Van der Flier could get the nod in Ireland's back row.
Van der Flier could get the nod in Ireland's back row.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Andy Farrell is set to hand Josh van der Flier a start in the back row against Wales in their Six Nations clash on Sunday.

An injury to Caelan Doris opened up a slot in Ireland’s back row alongside CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony, with van der Flier now in line to be given the nod.

The 27-year-old has been competing with Leinster team-mates Will Connors and Rhys Ruddock for a starting spot and could feature in the number seven shirt against the Welsh.

Van der Flier, who has 28 caps, started the first three games of the Farrell era in early 2020 but didn’t feature as extensively in Ireland’s autumn campaign, although he did start in a strong home win against Wales in November.

Farrell also has a big call to confirm in his second row, with Munster’s Tadhg Beirne in line to start alongside James Ryan as Iain Henderson possibly provides the bench cover.

Ulster man Henderson hasn’t played since Ireland’s autumn campaign due to injury and his lack of action means the in-form Beirne could be handed his 10th Test start.

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Meanwhile, Farrell may spring a surprise in his back three by starting James Lowe on the left wing. The Leinster man hasn’t played since last autumn due to a groin issue but is fit again and has been pushing hard for a place alongside Keith Earls and Hugo Keenan in the back three. Jordan Larmour is also back in the Ireland squad, having missed the autumn due to injury, and provides another option on the wing or at fullback.

The returning Leinster tighthead Tadhg Furlong is expected to be named on the bench for Ireland, while Munster loosehead Dave Kilcoyne is also set to feature.

Farrell is due to officially name the Ireland matchday 23 tomorrow.

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Murray Kinsella

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