Ireland unchanged for Wales showdown

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 14:14

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has named an unchanged starting XV for the Six Nations encounter with Wales in Cardiff on Friday.

Captain Rory Best is again joined in the front row by Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong, with Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner retained in the second row.
Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien and Christiaan Stander fill the back row slots.

Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton are at scrumhalf and flyhalf respectively.

Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose are named as the centre partnership, with fullback Rob Kearney flanked by Keith Earls and Simon Zebo on the wings.
Jared Payne has failed to shake off heavy bruising from last Friday's Ulster win over Treviso.

Payne has made an unlikely return to Ireland's squad for the final two Six Nations rounds, after suffering a nasty kidney injury in November.

Ireland could have benefited from the 31-year-old's defensive leadership against Wales' powerful backline, but the New Zealand-born centre was not quite ready for action.
Ireland's sole change to the matchday 23 that saw off France 19-9 in Dublin on Saturday, February 25, sees the luckless Andrew Trimble miss out through a hand problem - having only just beaten a groin issue.

Trimble will miss the rest of the Six Nations after suffering his new setback in action for Ulster last Friday.

It means Tommy Bowe takes a seat on Ireland's bench.

The replacements named for the game in Cardiff are Niall Scannell, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony, Kieran Marmion, Paddy Jackson and Tommy Bowe.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Christiaan Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Cian Healy, 18 John Ryan, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Peter O'Mahony, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Tommy Bowe.

Date: Friday, March 10
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 20.05 (20.05 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 5 5 0 0 26
Wales 5 3 0 2 15
Scotland 5 3 0 2 13
France 5 2 0 3 11
England 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 1