Joe Schmidt has named his starting 15 to take Wales in the Six Nations at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, with the uncapped CJ Stander set to make his debut.
The Ireland side that will play Wales in the country’s opening RBS 6 Nations Championship tie has been named.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 5, 2016
South Africa-born CJ Stander will win his first cap for Ireland, lining out at blindside in a backrow that contains fellow Munster man Tommy O’Donnell at openside and vice-captain Jamie Heaslip at number 8.
Newly-instated captain Rory best wins his 90th cap, starting in the middle of a front row consisting of Jack McGrath and Nathan White.
Leinster pair Devin Toner and Mike McCarthy begin in the second row as they look to make up for the loss of the irreplaceable Paul O’Connell.
Leinster’s Jonny Sexton assumes the out-half position with Conor Murray at scrum-half, while the initial World Cup centre pairing of Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne are reunited.
Simon Zebo takes the full-back spot with Rob Kearney out injured as Andrew Trimble and Keith Earls occupy the wing positions.
Schmidt is hoping to have Sean O’Brien and Kearney back in training ahead of the France clash in Paris on Saturday week.
Ireland team to face Wales: (15-9) S Zebo; A Trimble, J Payne, R Henshaw, K Earls; J Sexton, C Murray; (1-8) J McGrath, R Best, N White; D Toner, M McCarthy; CJ Stander, T O'Donnell, J Heaslip.
Replacements: (16-23) S Cronin, J Cronin, T Furlong, D Ryan, R Ruddock, K Marmion, I Madigan, D Kearney.
In case you missed it, here is the Wales side that will begin against Ireland on Sunday:
— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) February 3, 2016