Robbie Henshaw will shift from his regular centre position to fullback for Ireland in their Six Nations opener against England in Dublin on Saturday.
With regular fullback Rob Kearney not having done enough to prove his match fitness, Henshaw, who normally plays at inside centre internationally, will wear the No 15 jersey for the first time since his debut against the USA six years ago.
Henshaw’s inclusion is one of two changes to the side that beat the All Blacks last year. Experienced scrumhalf Conor Murray returns to the starting lineup to form his regular partnership with Johnny Sexton.
Among the forwards, the selection has been kept relatively consistent with a strong front row of Cian Healy, captain Rory Best and tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong.
There is a slight surprise in that flank Josh van der Flier has been selected ahead of Sean O’Brien, who is on the bench. Joining O’Brien among the substitutes are Connacht lock Quinn Roux and Ulster scrumhalf John Cooney, who will make just his fifth international appearance.
Ireland – 15 Robbie Henshaw; 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale; 10 Johnathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy.
Subs: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Sean O’Brien, 21 John Cooney, 22 Joey Carbury, 23 Jordan Larmour.
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