August 4, 2021

Beirne, Van der Flier, Lowe in for Ireland

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Ireland open their 2021 Six Nations campaign by travelling to face Wales in Cardiff on Sunday, February 7 (3pm kick-off). Tadhg Beirne starts in the second row, Josh van der Flier at openside flanker, James Lowe on the wing and Hugo Keenan at full-back. Tadhg Furlong returns to the bench.

By Michael Cantillon

Last Updated: 05/02/21 11:44am

Flanker Josh van der Flier has won the selection race to start in Ireland's back-row vs Wales Flanker Josh van der Flier has won the selection race to start in Ireland's back-row vs Wales

Flanker Josh van der Flier has won the selection race to start in Ireland’s back-row vs Wales

Andy Farrell has brought Tadhg Beirne and Josh van der Flier into his forward pack, and added fit-again wing James Lowe to his Ireland squad to face Wales in Cardiff on Sunday.

With Leinster back-row Caelan Doris (concussion) and Connacht lock Quinn Roux (neck) having withdrawn from the Ireland squad this week due to injury, Munster second row Beirne is in to partner James Ryan, with Ulster’s Iain Henderson fit enough for the bench after his knee injury.

Quinn Roux (left) and Caelan Doris were ruled out this week due to injuries Quinn Roux (left) and Caelan Doris were ruled out this week due to injuries

Quinn Roux (left) and Caelan Doris were ruled out this week due to injuries

The back-row is completely reconfigured in the absence of No 8 Doris, with CJ Stander shifting from the blindside to the back of the scrum, Peter O’Mahony from the openside to blindside and Van der Flier seeing off the likes of Rhys Ruddock and Will Connors (who is a replacement) to start at seven.

Tadhg Beirne starts in the second row alongside James Ryan Tadhg Beirne starts in the second row alongside James Ryan

Tadhg Beirne starts in the second row alongside James Ryan

Within the front row, Cian Healy, Rob Herring and Andrew Porter combine, with Dave Kilcoyne and Tadhg Furlong both returning to the bench from injury for the first time since last year’s Six Nations championship. Ronan Kelleher provides hooker cover.

In the backs, Hugo Keenan starts at full-back with Jacob Stockdale injured and Jordan Larmour on the bench, while Keith Earls and Lowe start on the respective wings.

James Lowe scored a try against Wales in November on his Test debut, and starts in Cardiff on Sunday James Lowe scored a try against Wales in November on his Test debut, and starts in Cardiff on Sunday

James Lowe scored a try against Wales in November on his Test debut, and starts in Cardiff on Sunday

The half-back pairing is the tried and tested partnership of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, with the latter captaining the side having overcome a hamstring injury. Leinster scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park and Ulster 10 Billy Burns provide replacement cover.

In midfield, Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose start in the centres after winning selection battles with Connacht’s Bundee Aki and Munster’s Chris Farrell.

Johnny Sexton is fit enough after his hamstring complaint to start and captain Ireland Johnny Sexton is fit enough after his hamstring complaint to start and captain Ireland

Johnny Sexton is fit enough after his hamstring complaint to start and captain Ireland

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 1 Cian Healy, 2 Rob Herring, 3 Andrew Porter, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 5 James Ryan, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 CJ Stander.

Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Will Connors, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Jordan Larmour.