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Farrell keeps faith with Murray

Deegan set to make his debut as Ireland coach sticks with established front-line

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Holding tough: Ireland scrum-halves Conor Murray and John Cooney faced the media together ahead of today’s team announcement, which looks set to confirm that Murray will continue in the No 9 jersey. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Holding tough: Ireland scrum-halves Conor Murray and John Cooney faced the media together ahead of today’s team announcement, which looks set to confirm that Murray will continue in the No 9 jersey. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Holding tough: Ireland scrum-halves Conor Murray and John Cooney faced the media together ahead of today’s team announcement, which looks set to confirm that Murray will continue in the No 9 jersey. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Conor Murray is expected to see off the challenge of John Cooney and continue at scrum-half alongside captain Johnny Sexton against Wales on Saturday.

The Ulster No 9 was back-up for his Munster counterpart against Scotland last Saturday and is set to continue in that role despite his red-hot form for his province.

Max Deegan is expected to make his Ireland debut, but he is likely to do so from the bench as Peter O'Mahony is in line to earn a recall to the starting XV. With Caelan Doris due to miss out after picking up a head injury in last weekend's win over the Scots, head coach Andy Farrell is expected to revert back to the tried and tested back-row of O'Mahony, Josh van der Flier and CJ Stander at No 8.

The other enforced change comes in midfield as Garry Ringrose is ruled out having undergone surgery on his thumb. Like O'Mahony, Robbie Henshaw is also in line for to be reinstated, having started on the bench against Scotland. That would mean Henshaw will renew his centre partnership with Bundee Aki.

Keith Earls has recovered from a knee injury, but Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale are unlikely to be dropped with Jordan Larmour again wearing the 15 jersey.

Tadhg Furlong was helped off the pitch last weekend after his calves cramped, but he is understood to be recovering well.

Should Furlong be passed fit, he is likely to again form a front-row with Cian Healy and Rob Herring.

James Ryan and Iain Henderson will continue in the engine room in front of the familiar looking back-row.

Having been involved at the Aviva as an extra squad player last weekend, the uncapped Deegan is now pushing hard for a place in this week's match-day 23. The 23-year old has been excellent for Leinster this season, scoring seven tries in 14 games.

Deegan's fellow Leinster flanker Will Connors has been added to the wider Six Nations squad, but isn't expected to make his debut on Saturday.

The Ireland team to play Wales will officially be named at 2.15 today.

Possible Ireland team to play Wales on Saturday - J Larmour; A Conway, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton (capt), C Murray; C Healy, R Herring, T Furlong; I Henderson, J Ryan; P O'Mahony, J van der Flier, CJ Stander.

Irish Independent


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