Ireland Name Squad to Face Wales

Ireland will hope for a better result than last time against the Welsh, 22-10 at the World Cup. (c) Joslyn Layne.

Declan Kidney has named his team to take on Wales in Ireland’s Six Nations opener on Sunday. Here’s the team:

Ireland team for Wales match

1. Cian Healy

2. Rory Best

3. Mike Ross

4. Donncha O’Callaghan

5. Paul O’Connell

6. Stephen Ferris

7. Sean O’Brien

8. Jamie Heaslip

9. Conor Murray

10. Jonathan Sexton

11. Andrew Trimble

12. Gordon D’Arcy

13. Keith Earls

14. Tommy Bowe

15. Rob Kearney

Subs

16. Sean Cronin, 17. Tom Court, 18. Donnacha Ryan, 19. Peter O’Mahony, 20. Eoin Reddan, 21. Ronan O’Gara, 22. Fergus McFadden.

Ireland will be intent on avoiding this situation on Sunday. (c) Joslyn Layne.

So no shocks in the starting 15. Peter O’Mahony’s inclusion on the bench is the only selection that was not widely anticipated. However, his form and impact for Munster this season make it well deserved. As expected, Keith Earls takes the 13 jersey after an accomplished performance there for Munster in that big win over Northampton.

Donncha O’Callaghan’s inclusion from the start may draw the most criticism, but Kidney has always been loyal to the players who have served him well in the past. Donnacha Ryan will have to be content with making an impact off the bench. ROG won’t be happy acting as a replacement but there’s every chance he will have some part to play.

In the end, this is what everyone expected from Kidney. But that’s no criticism from The Touchline. Kidney has picked what he sees as the strongest available team to beat Wales at the Aviva on Sunday. He has no interest in testing youngsters in that environment. Take a second look at the team above. It is filled with quality. If it lacks excitement on paper, just remember the form players like Rob Kearney and Stephen Ferris are in. This is a team with the potential to win the Six Nations and that is Kidney’s only concern.

Wales name their team on Friday. Alun Wyn-Jones, Luke Charteris, Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees are all out injured. Rhys Priestland, Dan Lydiate and Jamie Roberts are hoping to be fit in time for Sunday’s game.

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Photos courtesy:  Joslyn Layne.

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