Sexton starts against the Italians but Peter O’Mahony loses fitness battle
Jonathan Sexton has passed his fitness test to take his place against the Italians on Saturday, but Peter O’Mahony has not been so fortunate.
Head coach Joe Schmidt named a team with just one change from the side defeated at Twickenham, with Ulster’s Iain Henderson drafted into the backrow to replace O’Mahony with Rhys Ruddock named on the bench to cover the blindside, with Eoin Reddan cover for Conor Murray on the bench.
Schmidt conceded that Sexton was touch-and-go during the week with a thumb injury and Paddy Jackson was on stand-by if required, but his inclusion will bolster Ireland’s team with the visit of the winless Italians.
Ireland XV v Italy – R Kearney; A Trimble, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O'Connell (capt); I Henderson, C Henry, J Heaslip. Reps: S Cronin, J McGrath, M Moore, R Ruddock, J Murphy, E Reddan, P Jackson, F McFadden.