Andy Farrell has named his Ireland side ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium.
The big news stemming from Farrell’s first-ever team announcement as head coach is that Munster’s Conor Murray will continue at scrum-half alongside new captain Johnny Sexton while Caelan Doris of Leinster gets the nod at number eight in what will be his Test debut for Ireland.
There have been calls to drop Murray in favour Ulster’s John Cooney who is arguably the form scrum-half in Europe. However, Farrell has opted to stick with the Sexton/Murray axis that has served Irish rugby well for the better part of a decade.
Meanwhile, Doris is joined in the back-row by CJ Stander and Josh van der Flier, meaning there is no place on the starting XV for stalwart and former vice-captain Peter O’Mahony.
There is also no place in the starting lineup for Devin Toner despite his return to international duty as Ulster skipper Iain Henderson will partner James Ryan in the second-row. Rob Herring is the man tasked with replacing Rory Best in the front-row where he will be partnered by Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong.
Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose make up a familiar-looking midfield partnership alongside Sexton and Murray. Jordan Larmour is named at full-back while Jacob Stockdale retains his position on the wing where he is joined by Andrew Conway.
Kick-off in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday is 4.45 pm.
Ireland XV to face Scotland:
Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton (c), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, James Ryan; CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.
Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Peter O’Mahony, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw.