Ireland Name strong squad for Six Nations Opener

Scotland make changes ahead of Calcutta Cup Clash with England

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will give Six Nations debuts to three players when his team take on France in Paris on Saturday afternoon with former U20s skipper James Ryan being joined by Jacob Stockdale and Bundee Aki in the 23 man squad.

Ryan who won his first senior camps during Irelands summer Tour to USA and Japan will start in the 2nd row, With Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale looking to improve on his 4 international tries in as many games starts on the wing with Keith Earls returning to the team on the other wing.

Centre Aki will partner the returning Robbie Henshaw in midfield renewing the partnership that was so clinical against the Springboks in the autumn, while Leinsters Rob Kearney completes the three quarters starting at full back.
Experienced pair Jonny Sexton and Conor Murray will be looking to guide the side around the field as they link up at half backs.

In the pack Rory Best will again lead the team at hooker, with the experienced Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong starting at Prop. Iain Henderson will join Ryan in the 2nd row with O’Mahony, Van der Flier and Stander making up the back row of the scrum.

In the absence of the injured Jamie Tracey, Hooker Sean Cronin is recalled for his 57th cap, ending a near 18 month excel with his last cap being against Australia in November 2016. He is joined on the bench by Prop Forward John Ryan and half backs Joey Carbery and Luke McGarth, with Dan Leavy, Fergus McFadden and Devin Toner completing the match day squad.

Ireland: Rob Kearney (Leinster); Keith Earls (Munster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Bundee Aki (Connacht), Jacob Stockdale (Ulster); Johnny Sexton (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster); Iain Henderson (Ulster), James Ryan (Leinster); Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster).

Replacements: Sean Cronin (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), John Ryan (Munster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Dan Leavy (Leinster), Luke McGrath (Leinster), Joey Carbery (Leinster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster).

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