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Six Nations | Ireland make seven changes for Italy clash

Ireland have made seven changes for Saturday's Six Nations clash against Italy in Rome, with Johnny Sexton and James Ryan returning to the starting lineup.

Captain Sexton, who missed the defeat to France, will partner Jamison Gibson Park in the half-backs, with Ryan named alongside Iain Henderson in the second row.

Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher and Tadgh Furlong come into a new-look front row, while Jordan Larmour earns a start on the right-hand side.

Uncapped duo Craig Casey and Ryan Baird have been named among the replacements for Andy Farrell's men, but Conor Murray misses out due to a hamstring injury.

Robbie Henshaw, who is set to win his 50th international cap, partners Garry Ringrose in midfield. James Lowe retains his place on the left wing, with Hugo Keenan also earning another start in the number 15 jersey. Tadgh Beirne joins Will O'Connor and Cj Stander in the back row.

Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Keith Earls, Billy Burns, Jack Conan, Casey and Baird are named as Ireland's replacements.

Ireland visit Rome in search of their first victory in the 2021 tournament, having suffered back-to-back defeats to Wales and France in their opening two matches.

"We've got some guys coming back in, some guys that have a few more game under their belt and other guys that deserve a chance as well," Farrell said.

"All in all we feel this is the best side for this weekend against Italy."

Italy head coach Franco Smith has named an unchanged side for the hosts.

Ireland: Hugo Keenan, Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe , Jonathan Sexton (Capt), Jamison Gibson Park; Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Will Connors, CJ Stander

Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Craig Casey, Billy Burns, Keith Earls


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