Three Connacht players have been named to the matchday squad for this weekend’s Six Nations clash against Italy.
Mack Hansen, Bundee Aki, and Finlay Bealham have all bee named among the starting XV for Saturday’s game at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
There have been six changes made by Andy Farrell to the starting lineup from the team that triumphed over France at Aviva Stadium 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.
The match will be broadcast live on RTE and ITV television and on RTE and BBC NI radio.
IRELAND Team v Italy, Guinness Six Nations Championship, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Saturday, February, 25, Kick-Off 14:15 Irish Time
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 27 caps
14. Mack Hansen (Connacht/Corinthians) 11 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 49 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 43 caps
11. James Lowe (Leinster) 17 caps
10. Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 16 caps
9. Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 9 caps
1. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 50 caps
2. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 19 caps
3. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 29 caps
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 70 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 50 caps (c)
6. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 25 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 47 caps
8. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 35
16. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 14 caps
17. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 50 caps
18. Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 6 caps
19. Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 8 caps
20. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 91 caps
21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 102 caps
22. Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution) 2 caps
23. Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 11 caps