Ireland make seven changes for Italy clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Ireland coaching group have made seven changes to the side for their Six Nations Round Three clash against Italy in Rome.
Ireland are coming off a 13-15 defeat to France in Dublin in Round Two.
There are two uncapped players in the replacements.
Craig Casey, who was on the bench for the game against France, and Ryan Baird are in line for their first international caps in Stadio Olimpico on Saturday afternoon.
Johnny Sexton returns to captain the side and partners Jamison Gibson Park in the halfbacks.
This weekend has come too soon for Conor Murray who is continuing his hamstring rehab.
Robbie Henshaw, who earns his 50th cap for Ireland, will again partner Garry Ringrose in the midfield. Henshaw made his Ireland debut against USA in 2013, a few days before his 20th birthday.
Hugo Keenan retains the No.15 jersey with James Lowe on the left wing and Jordan Larmour coming in on the right-hand side.
A new front row combination of Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher and Tadgh Furlong is set to start.
James Ryan returns to the second row to partner Iain Henderson.
Tadgh Beirne shifts to the back row filling the blindside role with Will Connors at openside and CJ Stander at No.8.
The replacements for the weekend are Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Jack Conan, Billy Burns, Keith Earls and the uncapped duo of Baird and Casey
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tadhg Beirne, 6 Will Connors, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Keith Earls.
Date: Saturday, February 27
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 15.15 (14.15 UK & Ireland time; 14.15 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Romain Poite (France)
7 Changes. 50th cap for @henshawrob & 2 new caps on the bench. Here’s the details on the Ireland team to play Italy (with the correct graphic this time😀)#ShoulderToShoulder #ITAvIRE #GuinnessSixNationshttps://t.co/5fyv51kcXq pic.twitter.com/4Bbnu3vRNY
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 25, 2021