Friday 22 March 2019

Sean Cronin makes first Six Nations start as Joe Schmidt shuffles pack for Ireland's trip to Rome

Sean Cronin will start against Italy and (inset) Joe Schmidt
Sean Cronin will start against Italy and (inset) Joe Schmidt
Sean Cronin will start against Italy and (inset) Joey Carbery is injured
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Sean Cronin will make his first Six Nations start against Italy on Sunday as Joe Schmidt shuffles his pack for the trip to Rome.

On his 68th cap and his 33rd appearance in the tournament, incredibly this will be the hooker's first time wearing the number two jersey in the Six Nations.

In-form Connacht out-half Jack Carty is in line to make his international debut from the bench as Joey Carbery misses out through an injury picked up in training on Wednesday.

Schmidt had made four changes to the team that beat Scotland with each of the alternations coming in the pack, which means that the same back-line that started in Murrayfield remains in situ.

Dave Kilcoyne is handed a rare start in the front-row alongside Cronin and with Cian Healy given the weekend off, Jack McGrath has earned a recall on the bench.

Having impressed in Murrayfield, Quinn Roux is again named in the engine room as he partners his Connacht team-mate Ultan Dillane.

The fourth change comes in the back-row as Jordi Murphy packs down at No 8 as he makes up a strong back-row with captain for the day Peter O'Mahony and Sean O'Brien.

Chris Farrell has overcome a knee injury to retain his place in the starting XV as does Rob Kearney at full-back.

As expected, Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton continue at half-back as the influential pair look to find their form.

Having fallen out of favour in recent games, McGrath will be eager to impress from the bench as will Niall Scannell and John Ryan.

Iain Henderson returns from injury but has to make do with a place amongst the replacement.

Carty is in line for his appearance for Ireland, while Andrew Conway is also back in the squad as the 23rd man.

Ireland – R Kearney; K Earls, C Farrell, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, S Cronin, T Furlong; Q Roux, U Dillane; P O'Mahony (capt), S O'Brien, J Murphy. Reps: N Scannell, J McGrath, J Ryan, I Henderson, J van der Flier, J Cooney, J Carty, A Conway. 

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