Head coach Andy Farrell has named the team to kick off Ireland’s 2022 Guinness Six Nations campaign against Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm).
The matchday 23 includes one new cap in Connacht winger Mack Hansen, and two more players – Dan Sheehan and James Hume – are also set to make their Championship debuts.
Jonathan Sexton will captain the team on his 102nd cap for Ireland and his 53rd appearance in the Six Nations.
Sexton is joined at half-back by Jamison Gibson Park, while Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose link up in the centre for the 15th time for Ireland. Robbie Henshaw misses out after a niggle on an adductor last week.
The uncapped Hansen lines out on the left wing, Andrew Conway is on the right, and Hugo Keenan features at full-back for his 17th consecutive Test start. Keith Earls has a hamstring strain.
In the pack, the all-Leinster front row is made up of Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong, supported by Tadhg Beirne and James Ryan who pair up again in the second row.
Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan combine once more in the back row. 23-year-old flanker Doris was a try-scoring player-of-the-match against New Zealand in November.
On the bench, Six Nations newcomers Sheehan and Hume will look to make an impact off the bench, as will Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Ryan Baird, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray and the fit-again Joey Carbery.
Speaking about Hansen and the team selection, Farrell said: “Mack is a smart rugby player, he makes things happen. He knows how to get himself involved in the game. He’s got a good skill-set across the board.
“It’s tough when you first go into international camps, but the ones who do it best and hit the ground running end up getting to a good few caps straight away.
“They’re the guys that are able to be told once or maybe twice and pick up things straight away. Mack has certainly done that.
“‘Earlsie’ isn’t fit for this weekend. He had a hamstring strain yesterday and he has gone for a scan today. We’ll know more about that later on today, but he’s out.
“Robbie had a little bit of a niggle on an adductor towards the end of last week. A good few days of rehab has got him back up to speed again. He missed a couple of sessions and that allowed the other three guys (in the centre) to get through their work.
“Robbie is fine, but the rehab has done him good. Bundee and ‘Ringer’ get to start.”
Asked about Ulster star Hume, he added: “James has certainly buckled down. Gone away from the Autumn Series and put his best foot forward, to get back into the room for the Six Nations.
“He’s the type of guy as well, obviously involved in the autumn and then things are a little bit fresher for him coming back in. There’s not a massive break between the autumn and the Six Nations.
“His knowledge of how to get up to speed for somebody who is very young, as far as international experience, has helped himself massively. Certainly in the first 10 days of training.”
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Wales, 2022 Guinness Six Nations, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, February 5, kick-off 2.15pm):
15. Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster) 16
14. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 27
13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 37
12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 33
11. Mack Hansen (Connacht) *
10. Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) (capt) 101
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 12
1. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 40
2. Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster) 16
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 52
4. Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Leinster) 25
5. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 40
6. Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 12
7. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 35
8. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 22
16. Dan Sheehan (Lansdowne/Leinster) 2
17. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 112
18. Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 18
19. Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster) 6
20. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 79
21. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 92
22. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 27
23. James Hume (Banbridge/Ulster) 1
* Denotes uncapped player at this level