The same Ireland side that was selected for the postponed match against France will play against Italy this Saturday.
The good news for Ireland is that flyhalf Jonathan Sexton has made a complete recovery from a thigh injury, an ailment that placed him doubt for that match against France. Otherwise the rest of the match 22 is as fit and ready as it was two weeks ago.
It must have been tempting for Declan Kidney to rest key players knowing Ireland will play four consecutive Tests because of the postponed game against France. The Ireland coach explained that it would be folly to plan too far ahead.
‘We need to approach this game by game, rather than as a block of four fixtures, and that’s what we’re doing,’ he said.
Ireland – 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Paul O’Connell (c), 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Subs: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Tom Court, 18 Donnacha Ryan, 19 Peter O’Mahony, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O’Gara, 22 Fergus McFadden.