Four debutants for Ireland’s Six Nations clash

Ireland coach Andy Farrell has included four uncapped players in their match-day 23 for the rescheduled Six Nations match against Italy in Dublin on Saturday.

Two uncapped players in loose forward Will Connors and wing Hugo Keenan – who has come through Ireland’s sevens programme – are in the starting lineup.

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Keenan’s start means that Jacob Stockdale is shifted to fullback and they are joined by Andrew Conway in the back three.

Johnny Sexton will captain the team from flyhalf and resumes his halfback combination with scrumhalf Conor Murray, while Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose are in Ireland’s midfield.

In the front row, Cian Healy edges closer to a century of caps as he makes his 99th appearance and is joined by South African-born hooker Rob Herring and Andrew Porter.

James Ryan and Tadgh Beirne fill the second-row berths, while debutant Connors is the back row alongside Caelan Doris and CJ Stander.

On Ireland’s bench, there are two more debutants in Leinster loosehead prop Ed Byrne and his provincial teammate, scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park.

Ireland can climb to the top of the 2020 Six Nations table with a bonus-point victory on Saturday, which would set up a spectacular final round of fixtures as England and France would be trailing by one point.

Ireland – 15 Jacob Stockdale, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Hugo Keenan, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Will Connors, 6 Caelan Doris, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadgh Beirne, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Cian Healy.
Subs: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Robbie Henshaw.

Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images