Ireland: Tadhg Furlong boost as he returns to the starting line-up with Robbie Henshaw on the bench
World-class tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong has recovered from the calf injury which prevented him from playing in the opening three Six Nations games.
The front-rower has been named in Ireland’s starting XV to face Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday as they look to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive.
It is a timely boost for head coach Andy Farrell following the news that Furlong’s stand-in, Finlay Bealham, would miss the rest of the tournament due to a knee issue.
Close to full strength
With hooker Dan Sheehan also starting, it means that their first choice front-row will take to the field for the first time in this year’s Six Nations.
Behind them, there was less good news when Tadhg Beirne was ruled out, but Iain Henderson is an experienced replacement and combines with James Ryan at lock.
Finally in the pack, Farrell reverts to the loose trio which started their first two matches against Wales and France, with Peter O’Mahony and Josh van der Flier at flanker, and Caelan Doris at number eight.
In the backline, Johnny Sexton is fit enough to take his place at fly-half and he once again partners Conor Murray, who continues at scrum-half despite Jamison Gibson-Park’s injury return.
Garry Ringrose returns at outside centre and is alongside Bundee Aki in the midfield, with Stuart McCloskey reportedly nursing a calf problem.
The back three remains unchanged as Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen and James Lowe combine.
On the bench against Scotland, Ronan Kelleher, Cian Healy and Tom O’Toole are the front-row replacements, with Ryan Baird the utility back five option after impressing as a replacement in Round Three.
Jack Conan keeps his place in the 23 despite an inauspicious set of displays so far in the Six Nations, while Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne cover the half-back positions.
To round off the 23, Robbie Henshaw is back from injury and provides another significant boost for the Irish.
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 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 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Robbie Henshaw
Date: Sunday, March 12
Venue: BT Murrayfield
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)
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