Sexton starts again as Ireland make four changes for Tonga
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has revealed his team to face Tonga in their World Cup Pool B clash in Nantes on Saturday.
Farrell has made two changes in personnel to his backline as Mack Hansen and Conor Murray are named in the starting XV, while Ronan Kelleher and Josh van der Flier come into the pack.
Hansen is selected in the back three alongside Hugo Keenan and James Lowe, with Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose continuing their midfield partnership. Murray comes into the scrumhalf position to partner captain Johnny Sexton in the halfbacks.
Up front, Kelleher starts alongside Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong, with Tadhg Beirne shifting to the second row to pack down alongside James Ryan. Last weekend’s Player of the Match, Peter O’Mahony, is named at blindside, with Van der Flier at openside and Caelan Doris at No.8.
There are a number of players on the replacements bench in line for their World Cup debuts, as David Kilcoyne and Finlay Bealham join Rob Herring as the front row reinforcements, while Iain Henderson and Ryan Baird cover second row and back row respectively. Craig Casey, Ross Byrne and Robbie Henshaw complete the matchday 23.
As Team B for the fixture, Ireland will wear their alternate kit for Saturday’s match as part of World Rugby’s colour blindness protocols.
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Conor Murray, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Ryan Baird, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Robbie Henshaw.
Date: Saturday, September 16
Venue: Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT; 20.00 UK & Ireland time; 08.00 Sunday, September 17 TOT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley (England), Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)