As the Guinness Six Nations resumes with Saturday’s clash with Italy, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has made seven changes to the team that lost narrowly to France last time out.
There are two uncapped players among the replacements for the game in Rome (kick-off 3.15pm local time/2.15pm Irish time), with Craig Casey and Ryan Baird in line to make their debuts.
Jonathan Sexton returns to captain the side on the occasion of his 50th Six Nations appearance. Jamison Gibson-Park keeps hold of the number 9 jersey, with Conor Murray continuing his hamstring rehab.
It is an all-Leinster back-line as Robbie Henshaw, who earns his 50th Ireland cap, partners Garry Ringrose again in midfield, and Jordan Larmour joins full-back Hugo Keenan and James Lowe in the back-three.
There is a new front row combination of Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong. It will be Kilcoyne’s second Six Nations start of his career and a first for young hooker Kelleher, the only try scorer against France.
James Ryan slots back into the second row alongside Iain Henderson, while Tadhg Beirne reverts to the blindside berth. Will Connors gets his third Six Nations start at openside and CJ Stander, at number 8, completes the starting XV.
Farrell and his fellow coaches can call on plenty of experience off the bench, including centurion Cian Healy and 90-times capped winger Keith Earls.
Healy’s Leinster colleague, Jack Conan, is also standing by for his first appearance in the green jersey since the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Italy, 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Saturday, February 27, kick-off 3.15pm local time/2.15pm Irish time):
15. Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster) 8
14. Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 26
13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 32
12. Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 49
11. James Lowe (Leinster) 4
10. Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) (capt) 96
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster) 7
1. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 40
2. Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster) 8
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 46
4. Iain Henderson (Academy/Ulster) 60
5. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 33
6. Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster) 19
7. Will Connors (UCD/Leinster) 7
8. CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 48
16. Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 18
17. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 106
18. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 34
19. Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster) *
20. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 17
21. Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster) *
22. Billy Burns (Ulster) 5
23. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 90
* Denotes uncapped player