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The Irish facing Wales

Johnny Sexton leads the team as predicted, while Tadhg Furlong isn’t included after experiencing ankle and calf problems, he was anticipated to make a comeback, but it appears he has not entirely recovered. 

In Furlong’s place, Finlay Bealham will make his maiden Six Nations start. 

From the bench, Tom O’Toole will offer protection. Stuart McCloskey, an Ulster centre, will play in the championship for the first time since making his Test debut seven years ago after being chosen to start ahead of Bundee Aki. 

After missing the autumn season due to a calf injury, James Lowe will make a comeback on the left wing. Meanwhile, Johnny Sexton is healthy enough to take over at fly-half after overcoming his cheekbone issue.

What Irish Rugby say on the team

“Johnny Sexton will captain the side and is partnered in the half-backs by Jamison Gibson-Park. The centre combination from the Bank of Ireland Nations Series of Stuart McCloskey and Garry Ringrose is retained, with Hugo Keenan at fullback and Mack Hansen and James Lowe on the wings.

“In the front row Andrew Porter and Dan Sheehan are joined by Finlay Bealham, making a first Championship start, with Tadhg Beirne and James Ryan named at lock.

“Josh van der Flier is named at openside, Peter O’Mahony, set to win his 90th cap, is on the blindside flank and Caelan Doris is in the number eight slot.

“The replacements include Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Tom O’Toole, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Ross Byrne and Bundee Aki.”

The team in full

15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 25 caps

14. Mack Hansen (Connacht) 8 caps

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13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 47 caps

12. Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 9 caps

11. James Lowe (Leinster) 15 caps

10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 109 caps (c)

9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 23 caps

1. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 48 caps

2. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 13 caps

3. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 27 caps

4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 36 caps

5. James Ryan  (Leinster/UCD) 48 caps

6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 89 caps

7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 45 caps

8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 23 caps

Replacements:

16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch)  31 caps

17. Cian Healy  (Leinster/Clontarf) 121 caps

18. Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 4 caps

19. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 68 caps

20. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 33 caps

21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 100 caps

22. Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 4 caps

23. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 41 caps

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