TADHG FURLONG HAS been ruled out of Ireland’s Six Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday [KO 2.15pm, Virgin Media] with injury, meaning Finlay Bealham starts at tighthead prop.

Furlong has been dealing with a calf injury in recent weeks and hasn’t recovered in time to play against the Welsh. The Leinster prop hasn’t had game time since early December and will now target Ireland’s second-round clash with France.

With Bealham promoted into the starting XV for his first-ever Six Nations start, Ulster man Tom O’Toole will provide tighthead cover from the bench at the sold-out Principality Stadium.


Ulster man Stuart McCloskey has beaten off the competition of Bundee Aki to retain his starting spot at inside centre, with the latter included in the number 23 shirt.

Johnny Sexton is fit to captain an otherwise settled Ireland team, while Ross Byrne is named on the bench ahead of Jack Crowley.

Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, and Bealham make up the starting front row, while James Ryan and Tadhg Beirne team up in the second row. Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, and Caelan Doris continue in the Irish back row.

With Sexton partnering Jamison Gibson-Park in the halfbacks, McCloskey lines up with Garry Ringrose in midfield. James Lowe, Mack Hansen, and Hugo Keenan form the back three.

Cian Healy gets the nod as loosehead prop cover ahead of Dave Kilcoyne, while Iain Henderson is fit to back-up the locks after recovering from a head injury. Jack Conan is retained in the matchday 23 despite competition from the likes of Gavin Coombes and Ryan Baird, while Conor Murray is preferred to Craig Casey as scrum-half cover.

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Ireland (v Wales):

    15. Hugo Keenan

  • 14. Mack Hansen
  • 13. Garry Ringrose
  • 12. Stuart McCloskey
  • 11. James Lowe
  • 10. Johnny Sexton (captain)
  • 9. Jamison Gibson-Park
    1. Andrew Porter

  • 2. Dan Sheehan
  • 3. Finlay Bealham
  • 4. Tadhg Beirne
  • 5. James Ryan
  • 6. Peter O’Mahony
  • 7. Josh van der Flier
  • 8. Caelan Doris


    16. Rob Herring

  • 17. Cian Healy
  • 18. Tom O’Toole
  • 19. Iain Henderson
  • 20. Jack Conan
  • 21. Conor Murray
  • 22. Ross Byrne
  • 23. Bundee Aki

Referee: Karl Dickson [RFU].

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