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.

Ireland   Fiji
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

#SUFTUM