Andy Farrell names Ireland team for Six Nations opener

Ireland

Josh van der Flier will start in the back row for Ireland’s opening Six Nations clash with Wales, while Tadhg Furlong and Dave Kilcoyne will feature on the bench.

It’s been almost a year since Furlong last played for Ireland, having suffered a calf injury in the loss to England in last year’s Six Nations Championship.

The Wexford man only made his return from injury last weekend in Leinster’s win against the Scarlets in the Pro14, but has been trusted by Andy Farrell to replace Andrew Porter if needed.

Following Caelan Doris‘ withdrawal from the Ireland squad due to potential concussion symptoms, there had been much speculation about who would start in the back row.

While CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony were always likely to start, van der Flier, Will Connors and Rhys Ruddock were all in contention for the final starting berth. Connors has gotten the nod as a replacement.

Elsewhere, James Lowe has been trusted to start on the wing, having recently recovered from a groin injury. Keith Earls starts on the other wing while Jordan Larmour will provide ample replacement on the bench.

Craig Casey will have to wait another week at least to make his international debut, with Conor Murray selected to start while Jamison Gibson-Park will come off the bench if needed.

Matchday squad for Wales

15. Hugo Keenan

14. Keith Earls

13. Garry Ringrose

12. Robbie Henshaw

11. James Lowe

10. Johnny Sexton

9. Conor Murray

8. CJ Stander

7. Josh van der Flier

6. Peter O’Mahony

5. James Ryan

4. Tadhg Beirne

3. Andrew Porter

2. Rob Herring

1. Cian Healy

Replacements

16. Ronan Kelleher

17. Dave Kilcoyne

18. Tadhg Furlong

19. Iain Henderson

20. Will Connors

21. Jamison Gibson-Park

22. Billy Burns

23. Jordan Larmour

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