Garry Ringrose has been ruled out of Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations opener against France on Friday night, while Joe McCarthy and Calvin Nash will make their first appearances in the championship as part of the starting team.
Ringrose has returned early to Dublin from the training base in Portugal early to a shoulder injury he had been carrying since Leinster’s Champions Cup win against Leicester earlier this month.
Head coach Andy Farrell said Friday’s opener against France in Marseille is falling “a little bit too soon” for the 29-year-old, who they hope will be available to return for the Round 2 visit of Italy to Dublin on Sunday week.
His absence means a start for Robbie Henshaw, who comes in at outside centre to earn his 68th cap, having missed Ireland’s World Cup games against Scotland and New Zealand due to a hamstring issue.
Henshaw partners Bundee Aki in midfield.
As expected, Jack Crowley gets the nod to start at out-half and partners Jamison Gibson-Park behind the scrum.
Ciarán Frawley is the replacement out-half on the bench, and his versatility has allowed Farrell to go with a 6:2 split of forwards and backs among the replacements.
Nash (above) has won the race with Jordan Larmour to start on the right wing, and the Munster man is in line for a first Six Nations appearance, having made his Ireland debut in the summer series against Italy in August.
James Lowe and Hugo Keenan complete the backline.
The big call in the forwards sees McCarthy also given a Six Nations debut.
The 22-year-old starts in the second row alongside Tadhg Beirne, with James Ryan on the bench and Iain Henderson missing out on the matchday squad.
McCarthy will provide considerable support for the front row of Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter, while captain Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris make up an experienced back row.
France named a strong team earlier today.
Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Calvin Nash, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Jack Crowley, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Joe McCarthy, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.
Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Ciarán Frawley.
France: Thomas Ramos; Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Yoram Moefana; Matthieu Jalibert, Maxime Lucu; Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Uini Atonio; Paul Gabrillagues, Paul Willemse; Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt (capt).
Replacements: Julien Marchand, Reda Wardi, Dorian Aldegheri, Romain Taofifenua, Cameron Woki, Paul Boudehent, Nolann Le Garrec, Louis Bielle-Biarrey.
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Watch Wales v Scotland in the Under-20 Six Nations on Friday from 7.05pm on RTÉ Player.
Follow a live blog on France v Ireland in the Guinness Six Nations on Friday from 7.30pm on rte.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app and listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1.