Irish welcome back big guns

Ireland have made four changes to the team that beat Argentina in November for their opening Six Nations match against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

Fullback Rob Kearney, outside centre Brian O’Driscoll, openside flank Sean O’Brien and hooker Rory Best all return to the starting line-up after missing the end-of-year Tests through injury. However, first team regulars Paul O’Connell, Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe are still out of action.

Ireland will be captained by No 8 Jamie Heaslip, whose recent appointment was made with the 2015 World Cup in mind.

Ireland – 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Brian O’Driscoll, 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Mike McCarthy, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Subs: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Donncha O’Callaghan, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ronan O’Gara, 23 Keith Earls.