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Beirne starts as Ireland change three for Wales

Beirne starts as Ireland change three for Wales
  • Beirne comes in for Henderson at lock
  • O'Brien replaces Van der Flier in the back row
  • Kearney fit again after missing win over France

Tadhg Beirne will make his Guinness Six Nations debut after being named in Ireland’s team to take on Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Munster second row got his first taste of international rugby in 2018 and now makes his Championship bow in place of the injured Iain Henderson.

That is one of three changes to the team, with Rob Kearney fit to reclaim spot at full-back, having dropped out at the last minute against France.

Finally, Sean O’Brien returns in the back row in place of Josh van der Flier, who limped off early in the win over Les Bleus.

On the bench, Joe Schmidt has also made changes, with Andrew Porter, Quinn Roux and Kieran Marmion all named.

And Schmidt has backed Beirne to make a big impact in Cardiff, having previously impressed in Wales during his time with the Scarlets.

Schmidt said: “It’s a fairly small international career so far so this is likely to be the biggest challenge for him. He would have liked to have had bit more game time leading into it but you would love to go two weeks in a row with the same team. And we haven’t been afforded that luxury so we have to slot people in.

“But it has been a really positive challenge for us to see if we can mix and match, and still try and get cohesion. We did last week, can we build on that and do it again?

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“He knows the players pretty well and has played their second rows plenty of times in AWJ and Adam Beard. He will know his former Scarlets teammates very well, so with that combination he is as ready as we can get him to be. I know he is incredibly motivated to be as good as he can be.”

Having lost the opening game of the Championship to England, Ireland have bounced back with three successive victories over Scotland, Italy and France.

They now head to Cardiff looking to deny Wales the Grand Slam and keep their own Championship hopes alive.

To do that, they will need to win and hope that England do not beat Scotland in the final game of Super Saturday.

Ireland team to play Wales at Principality Stadium:

15. Rob Kearney (Leinster)
14. Keith Earls (Munster)
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster)
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht)
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)
10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster)
9. Conor Murray (Munster)

1. Cian Healy (Leinster)
2. Rory Best (Ulster)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)
4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster)
5. James Ryan (Leinster)
6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster)
7. Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
8. CJ Stander (Munster)

Replacements:

16. Niall Scannell (Munster)
17. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster)
18. Andrew Porter (Leinster)
19. Quinn Roux (Connacht)
20. Jack Conan (Leinster)
21. Kieran Marmion (Connacht)
22. Jack Carty (Connacht)
23. Jordan Larmour (Leinster)