Ireland: Late change to side as Jamison Gibson-Park ruled out, Conor Murray starts Six Nations opener against Wales

Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray Credit: Alamy
Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray Credit: Alamy

Ireland have been dealt an injury blow ahead of the Six Nations opener against Wales on Saturday, with Jamison Gibson-Park ruled out with an injury.

News broke of the late change to the starting team just hours before kick off in Cardiff, with head coach Andy Farrell having to make a tweak to his line-up.

Conor Murray is promoted from bench duty to the run-on side while Munster team-mate Craig Casey comes on to the bench to take Murray’s original jersey.

There is also another change to the replacements bench as veteran Cian Healy is ruled out, so Dave Kilcoyne comes into the matchday squad in the 17 shirt.

Murray in for Gibson-Park

Gibson-Park‘s combination with Johnny Sexton has been a significant plus point in Ireland‘s rise to becoming the top ranked Test side in the  rugby world.

They subsequently head into this year’s Six Nations as favourites for the title, with some predicting a possible Grand Slam for Farrell and his in-form side.

Standing in their path first up today is Wales at the Principality Stadium, which promises to be rocking as the hosts look to bounce back from a poor 2022.

Warren Gatland has since returned to the head coach position and Welsh supporters will be desperate for a bounce back performance in the Cardiff clash.

Claiming victory is a difficult ask for the hosts, however, with Ireland coming into 2023 with their tails up as head coach Farrell praised their preparations.

Top-drawer preparations

“We judge ourselves on our preparation and our preparation has been top-drawer,” he said on Friday, with Ireland also minus Tadhg Furlong on Saturday.

“It’s been as good as I’ve seen it in regards to getting ready for any type of competition.

“Hopefully that continues and it can translate into a performance. It doesn’t really get any tougher than Wales first up.”

Asked what message he had given his players going into this Rugby World Cup year, Farrell replied: “Honestly? Just Wales. Just Wales. It’s a tough old game, you know?

“We’d love to start this tournament off with a bang but we know how difficult that is. We’ve full concentration on this game.”

Ireland (revised): 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Conor Murray, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Bundee Aki

Date: Saturday, February 4
Venue: Principality Stadium
Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (RA), Luke Pearce (RFU)
TMO: Tom Foley (RFU)

READ MORE: Wales v Ireland: Six Nations preview as visitors set to prevail in Cardiff arm-wrestle

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