Ireland talisman Johnny Sexton is restored to the flyhalf starting berth for Saturday’s crucial Six Nations match with England where victory would ensure the Irish maintain hopes of the title.
Sexton, who signed a final contract extension taking him up to the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Tuesday, was on the bench for the previous 57-6 victory over Italy as Joey Carbery started.
Carbery had also started in the 30-24 defeat by France when 36-year-old Sexton was injured.
However, head coach Andy Farrell has opted for Sexton – who will win his 104th cap – alongside his Leinster teammate, scrumhalf Jamison Gibson Park.
Farrell has also restored Bundee Aki to renew his centre partnership with Garry Ringrose – the former missed the Italy match due to a niggle – and Andrew Conway is back on the wing.
Mack Hansen misses out as a result as Farrell retains New Zealand-born wing James Lowe after he fired on his return to the team against Italy.
Veteran backrow forward Peter O’Mahony gets the nod ahead of Jack Conan and another seasoned campaigner, Cian Healy, will win his 115th cap as he is chosen to start in the absence of injured prop Andrew Porter.
Ireland are second on the Six Nations table after two wins in three matches, three points behind unbeaten France. England are third, one point behind Farrell’s men.
Ireland – 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Jamison Gibson Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh can der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Cian Healy.
Subs: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Robbie Henshaw.
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