Stuart McCloskey is included in the Ireland team for the first time since the Six Nations in 2016 as he is named in the Irish side that will take on Fiji in Dublin on Saturday.
Rob Herring is also included in the starting line up and will make his first start for Ireland while former Ulster player Chris Farrell will make his debut. Kieran Treadwell is named as a replacement.
In the forwards only Devin Toner retains his jersey from the match against South Africa. Jack McGrath returns to the front row alongside Herring and Leinster’s Andrew Porter. Toner is joined by Ultan Dillane in the engine room. Fresh from his try scoring cameo against the Springboks, Rhys Ruddock assumes the captain’s armband just as he did in Ireland’s recent tour of USA and Japan. Ruddock is joined in the back row by fellow Leinstermen Jordi Murphy and Jack Conan.
Andrew Conway moves to fullback from his position on the wing last week. Darren Sweetnam and Dave Kearney occupy the wing berths while Farrell and McCloskey start at outside centre and inside centre respectively. Joey Carbery replaces Johnny Sexton who is left out of the team altogether. Kieran Marmion is his half back partner. It’s an exciting backline that features plenty of pace as well as strength in the contact.
Former Ulsterman Timoci Nagusa starts on the right wing for Fiji while Botia Veivuke, who starred at 6 for La Rochelle in their thumping victory over Ulster last month, is named at inside centre. The imperious Leone Nakarawa will be a handful for Ireland’s forward. Darren Sweetnam has the gargantuan task of defending the imposing Nemani Nadolo.
A win against Italy would have seen the Fijians leap into 8th position in the world rankings which would have been a record high for the country. Drawing ten apiece at the break, two penalties from Carlo Canna and one from Ian McKinley defeated Fiji 19-10. Joe Schmidt is using this game as a test of Ireland’s strength and depth so it will be interesting to see how they handle a Fijian side which will be a more cohesive unit.
The FRU predicts: Despite a rotated team, Ireland should have enough in the tank to comfortably see of the challenge of Nadolo and company. Ireland should score a number of tries in the process.
|Andrew Conway||15||Kini Murimurivalu|
|Darren Sweetnam||14||Timoci Nagusa|
|Chris Farrell||13||Jale Vatubua|
|Stuart McCloskey||12||Botia Veivuke|
|Dave Kearney||11||Nemani Nadolo|
|Joey Carbery||10||Ben Volavola|
|Kieran Marmion||9||Henry Seniloli|
|Jack McGrath||1||Campese Ma’afu|
|Rob Herring||2||Talemaitoga Tuapati|
|Andrew Porter||3||Manasa Saulo|
|Ultan Dillane||4||Api Ratuniyarawa|
|Devin Toner||5||Leone Nakarawa|
|Rhys Ruddock||6||Dominiko Waqaniburotu|
|Jordi Murphy||7||Akapusi Qera|
|Jack Conan||8||Nemani Nagusa|
|James Tracy||16||Sunia Koto|
|Cian Healy||17||Peni Ravai Kovekalou|
|Tadhg Furlong||18||Kalivati Tawake|
|Kieran Treadwell||19||Sikeli Nabou|
|CJ Stander||20||Semi Kunatani|
|Luke McGrath||21||Nikola Matawalu|
|Ian Keatley||22||Asaeli Tikoirotuma|
|Robbie Henshaw||23||Vereniki Goneva|