The Ireland Coaching Team have named the Match Day Squad for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash against Italy at Stadio Olimpico in Rome (Kick-off 2.15pm). There are six changes to the starting XV from the team that played France in Round 2.
James Ryan will captain the team and it will be the seventh occasion that he takes the captain’s armband. He will be partnered in the second row by Iain Henderson, who makes his first start for Ireland since the final game of last year’s Championship against Scotland.
Ronan Kelleher is retained at hooker having come off the bench against France with Andrew Porter and Finlay Bealham either side of him in the front row. In the back row, Jack Conan comes in at number eight with Caelan Doris switching to the blindside flank and Josh van der Flier at openside.
Craig Casey and Ross Byrne are set to make their first Six Nations starts and Bundee Aki is introduced to the midfield having started from the bench in the opening two rounds. Garry Ringrose is set to make his 50th appearance for Ireland while the back three of Hugo Keenan, James Lowe and Mack Hansen is unchanged from the opening two rounds.
Dan Sheehan has returned to fitness to take his place among the replacements alongside Dave Kilcoyne, Tom O’Toole, Ryan Baird, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley and Stuart McCloskey.