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Schmidt set to hand Fitzgerald 13 shirt for Ireland's clash with Wales

Nathan White is set for his first start at tighthead, while Dave Kearney is likely to get his chance.
Aug 26th 2015, 10:00 PM 15,222 44

JOE SCHMIDT IS set to give Luke Fitzgerald a start at 13 against Wales on Saturday in Dublin as he continues to assess his backline options before the World Cup.

Connacht’s Nathan White also looks likely to be included in Ireland’s starting XV for the first time, having made his debut against Scotland two weekends ago.

Luke Fitzgerald scores a try Fitzgerald scored in the win over Scotland at the Aviva Stadium. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Fitzgerald played at outside centre for Ireland off the bench in the 2013 defeat to New Zealand, but his injuries since that game meant further international opportunities in the position have not transpired until now.

Fitzgerald, who played on the wing against Scotland last time out, is set to link up with Robbie Henshaw in midfield as the Connacht man gets his first outing of the season.

Rob Kearney looks likely to return at fullback, with Keith Earls and Dave Kearney on the wings. Leinster out-half Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray are set to rekindle their successful halfback partnership against what is expected to be a strong Welsh side.

Jack McGrath and Richardt Strauss are expected to feature in the front row, while White is likely to win his second cap at tighthead as Marty Moore’s foot injury causes concern for Schmidt.

Iain Henderson looks set to line up alongside captain Paul O’Connell in the second row, while Jamie Heaslip is expected to come back into the team at number eight after starring against Wales in the first World Cup warm-up fixture earlier this month.

Nathan White White won his first Ireland cap against Scotland two weekends ago. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Jordi Murphy could be selected at openside flanker, while Peter O’Mahony is likely to get his season underway on the blindside.

Schmidt is set to officially announce his team to face Wales at Carton House tomorrow at 1.45pm.

Possible Ireland XV (v Wales):

15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Luke Fitzgerald
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Dave Kearney
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath
2. Richardt Strauss
3. Nathan White
4. Iain Henderson
5. Paul O’Connell
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Jamie Heaslip

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