Henderson in clear to boost Schmidt's Rome lock stock
Iain Henderson is available to make his return to international action against Italy on Sunday after escaping a suspension.
The Ulster lock went before a three-person disciplinary panel via video-link yesterday to review a 15th-minute incident in the province's win over Ospreys on Friday.
They found he committed an act of foul play in bringing flanker Sam Cross to the ground by the neck, but adjudged the incident merited only a yellow card and wouldn't result in a ban.
That means he is available for Ireland's Six Nations clash in Rome and Joe Schmidt's second-row options are further boosted by the return of Tadhg Beirne to the 32-man squad named yesterday.
Both players missed the first two rounds with injuries.
With Devin Toner out for the tournament, the Munster and Ulster stars come into contention for the round three game.
Quinn Roux started alongside James Ryan against Scotland, with Ultan Dillane impressing off the bench.
The IRFU have ruled centres Garry Ringrose (hamstring) and Will Addison (lower back) out of the Stadio Olimpico fixture, but Munster's Chris Farrell is fit to train.
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His club-mate John Ryan will be involved against Italy as Andrew Porter is released to play for Leinster against Southern Kings, while Kieran Marmion has remained with Connacht which means John Cooney is likely to continue as Conor Murray's back-up against the Azzurri.
Robbie Henshaw is also back in contention having penned a new three-year central contract with the union that will see him remain at Leinster until 2022.
The Athlone native started at full-back against England, but missed out on the Scotland win with a dead leg.
"Robbie has established himself as a leader within this Ireland squad and has delivered consistent world-class performances which have helped to drive the sustained success enjoyed by the national team," IRFU performance director David Nucifora said.
“He has a hunger for improvement and in driving the standards of those around him.”
Italy, meanwhile, have been dealt a major blow with the news their talisman Sergio Parisse will miss the clash due to a concussion he suffered while playing for Stade Francais against Lyon at the weekend.
“It is clear that we lose one of the strongest No 8s in the world, but we have players who are up to the situation that will be able to contribute to the team,” Italy forwards coach Giampero Di Carli said yesterday.
“We know Ireland well, we faced them last time in Chicago in November: it will be crucial for us to make the most of our opportunities.”
Ireland squad (v Italy) – Forwards: R Best (capt), T Beirne, J Conan, S Cronin, U Dillane, T Furlong, C Healy, I Henderson, D Kilcoyne, J McGrath, J Murphy, S O’Brien, P O’Mahony, Q Roux, James Ryan, John Ryan, N Scannell, J van der Flier. Backs: B Aki, C Blade, A Byrne, J Carbery, J Carty, A Conway, J Cooney, K Earls, C Farrell, T Farrell, R Henshaw, R Kearney, J Larmour, C Murray, J Sexton, J Stockdale.