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Murphy in at No 8 as Keatley gets nod

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will ask Jordi Murphy (inset) to do his best impression of Jamie Heaslip against Italy in Rome.

The Leinster multi-purpose forward has won the right to man the middle of the back row with Seán O'Brien starting with just 50 minutes of action under his belt and Peter O'Mahony unmoved from the blindside.

Munster's Ian Keatley has finally been given the chance to show what he can do in the Six Nations.


There will be a strong strain of familiarity at half-back now that the fitness of Conor Murray has been confirmed.

This will come as a big blow to Ian Madigan given how bullet-proof his goal-kicking has become in a match that could well go down to the wire.

Schmidt reverts to the Robbie Henshaw-Jared Payne partnership in midfield and Mike Ross has beaten off the challenge of Martin Moore to start at tight-head.

Veteran Rory Best has held off the in-form Seán Cronin while Cian Healy has been left to work on his fitness with Jack McGrath at loose-head.

Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, J Payne, R Henshaw, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, M Ross, D Toner, P O'Connell (capt), P O'Mahony, S O'Brien, J Murphy. Replacements: S Cronin, J Cronin, M Moore, I Henderson, T O'Donnell; I Boss, I Madigan, F Jones.