Jump to main content



Healy And Ryan Get The Nod For Ireland’s Italian Job

Healy And Ryan Get The Nod For Ireland’s Italian Job

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has announced named the team that will take on Conor O’Shea’s Italy at Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3.25pm local time/2.25pm Irish time) in round 2 of the RBS 6 Nations.

There are two changes to the Ireland side that lost the Championship opener to Scotland. Donnacha Ryan comes in to partner Devin Toner in second row, while Cian Healy – selected for his first Six Nations start since the 2015 title-clinching win over the Scots – joins captain Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong in the front row.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

With Ryan replacing Iain Henderson (slight hamstring strain), Joe Schmidt explained: “Donnacha is a pretty good lineout operator. He’s a real technician in that area and a tactician. He will add a bit of value at lineout time and he’s got a great work-rate. Those two things we feel we’re going to need this weekend.

“It was always our intention (to switch up Jack McGrath and Cian), and give them a 50-30 share. They’ll both get 80 minutes across the two matches and Cian starts on Saturday.”

The back row trio of CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip will combine for just their fourth Test start together, with Naas man Heaslip now Ireland’s eighth most-capped player of all-time.

Paddy Jackson, the 2017 Championship’s joint-second top scorer with 12 points, and Conor Murray continue their half-back partnership. Schmidt said that Jonathan Sexton, along with Peter O’Mahony, should be fit to face France in two weeks’ time, while Andrew Trimble (groin) will not be risked in Rome. “Andrew is so close but if you try to push someone back early, you take the risk of causing further problems,” admitted the New Zealander.
Robbie Henshaw, who made his Six Nations bow against Italy two years ago, and Garry Ringrose fill the midfield berths again with Rob Kearney at full-back, flanked by Simon Zebo and fellow winger Keith Earls who has scored four tries in seven appearances against the Azzurri.

McGrath, John Ryan and uncapped hooker Niall Scannell will provide the front row cover, Ultan Dillane and Josh van der Flier are the other pack options, while reserve scrum half Kieran Marmion could win his 10th cap on the occasion of his 25th birthday. Ian Keatley and Craig Gilroy are standing by for their first Six Nations run-outs since 2015 and 2013 respectively.

Schmidt added: “I have challenged them (the players) for a better start in Italy. I think it’s incredibly disappointing the way we started last weekend in Scotland.

“I don’t think it was apathy, there was a bit of anxiety at not having had the full period to warm-up. Players get anxious, they get very routine-based and I do think it’s a challenge for a professional player that they can be adaptable in different circumstances, so they can still start well and cope.

“We were really disappointed with the way we started. Scotland scored three tries in those first 25 minutes, then didn’t score another try after that.

“And I think that reflects what the team were capable of, but unfortunately then you”re chasing things. So we’ve certainly given them that challenge this week, and hopefully we see a better start.”

IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Italy, 2017 RBS 6 Nations Championship, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Saturday, February 11, kick-off 3.25pm local time/2.25pm Irish time):

Player/Club/Province/Caps –
15. Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 73
14. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 55
13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 4
12. Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 25
11. Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster) 29
10. Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster) 20
9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 54
1. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 61
2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt) 101
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 12
4. Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster) 43
5. Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 43
6. CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 11
7. Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) 45
8. Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) 92


16. Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) *
17. Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 37
18. John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 2
19. Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 9
20. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 6
21. Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht) 9
22. Ian Keatley (Young Munster/Munster) 4
23. Craig Gilroy (Bangor/Ulster) 9

* Denotes uncapped player