After a hard fought but not entirely convincing win in round one of the Six Nations against Scotland, Andy Farrell has made two changes to the starting team to take on Wales at the Aviva Stadium.
The Ulster contingent retain their respective jerseys; Rob Herring and Iain Henderson start in the pack, while Jacob Stockdale starts on the left wing and John Cooney remains on the bench.
The front row is unchanged with Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong either side of Herring. James Ryan partners Henderson while one of two changes to the side come in the back row. An injury after four minutes blighted Caelan Doris’ debut last week so Peter O’Mahony comes onto the blindside with CJ Stander moving to eight. Both Munstermen silenced a few critics last week with impressive performances. Josh van der Flier starts on the openside.
Robbie Henshaw comes in for Leinster teammate Garry Ringrose in the only change to the back line. He is partnered by Bundee Aki in the centre while underfire Conor Murray starts alongside captain Johnny Sexton at half back. Stockdale, Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour make up the back three.
Saturday will see a debut for former U20 international Max Deegan. The Leinsterman starred in the 2016 U20 side which got to the final of the 2016 World Championship, along with familiar faces James Ryan, Adam McBurney, Greg Jones, Jacob Stockdale and Johnny McPhillips. He’s been in great form over the last few years and a call up was inevitable.
I think Ireland got let off the hook last weekend against Scotland. Defensively Farrell’s men were superb but the visitors had opportunities to score, namely Stuart Hogg’s fumble over the line. It was important they got off to a good start and while they were unable to put in a performance that they would have wanted, a win is a good building block for Andy Farrell.
Saturday’s opponents, Wales, had a comfortable win over Italy at the Principality Stadium with debutant Nick Tompkins running in a try. I’m not sure how much you can read into that performance as Italy were brutal but the World Cup semi finalists have carried on their fine 2019 into that opening match.
Like Farrell, Italy was a first match in charge for Wayne Pivac. We saw glimpses of how he wants Wales to play in that first match against Italy and he’s got an insanely talented group of players to work with.
Leigh Halfpenny is in super form at fullback along with Josh Adams on the wing. Their back row is mobile and will provide big carries around the pitch. Formed by Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau, they’ve Ross Moriarty coming off the bench to add some punch in the second half.
Although Ireland are at home, I am slightly uneasy about this upcoming match. If Ireland are able to come out on top then it will certainly go along way to boosting confidence in the team.
The FRU predicts: If this was in Cardiff I’d say Wales would win by about ten points, such is the form around Ireland currently. As it’s in Dublin, I’m tipping Ireland with a late score to win it.
|Jordan Larmour||15||Leigh Halfpenny|
|Andrew Conway||14||George North|
|Robbie Henshaw||13||Nick Tompkins|
|Bundee Aki||12||Hadleigh Parkes|
|Jacob Stockdale||11||Josh Adams|
|Johnny Sexton||10||Dan Biggar|
|Conor Murray||9||Tomos Williams|
|Cian Healy||1||Wyn Jones|
|Rob Herring||2||Ken Owens|
|Tadhg Furlong||3||Dillon Lewis|
|Iain Henderson||4||Jake Ball|
|James Ryan||5||Alun Wyn Jones|
|Peter O’Mahony||6||Aaron Wainwright|
|Josh vd Flier||7||Justin Tipuric|
|CJ Stander||8||Taulupe Faletau|
|Ronan Kelleher||16||Ryan Elias|
|Dave Kilcoyne||17||Rhys Carre|
|Andrew Porter||18||Leon Brown|
|Devin Toner||19||Adam Beard|
|Max Deegan||20||Ross Moriarty|
|John Cooney||21||Gareth Davies|
|Ross Byrne||22||Owen Williams|
|Keith Earls||23||Johnny McNicholl|