Chris Farrell and Andrew Porter will make their first Six Nations starts as two of five Ireland changes for Saturday’s Six Nations showdown with Wales.
Injuries have forced head coach Joe Schmidt’s hand to an extent, with the influential Robbie Henshaw out of the tournament with a shoulder injury and replaced at outside centre by Farrell.
Porter gets the nod in the front row after Tadhg Furlong failed to recover from a hamstring injury sustained in the win against Italy, while James Ryan comes in at second row for Iain Henderson (hamstring).
Captain Rory Best, who will become his country’s most capped forward, is only member of Ireland’s front three to remain from the Italy game with Cian Healy wearing the number one jersey ahead of Jack McGrath.
The final change sees CJ Stander return at number eight, as expected, with Jack Conan beating Jordi Murphy to a place among the replacements.
Ireland have not beaten Wales in the past three contests between the teams in the Six Nations, and will need to stop that particular rot to remain in contention for a Grand Slam.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 22, 2018
Ireland XV: Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Devin Toner, Peter O’Mahony, Dan Leavy, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, John Ryan, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion, Joey Carbery, Fergus McFadden.
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