Flanker Josh Van Der Flier and wing James Lowe have been recalled by Andy Farrell for Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations opener against Wales.
Head coach Farrell has been forced into a back row reshuffle ahead of Sunday’s game in Cardiff due the enforced absence of the influential Caelan Doris.
Van Der Flier has been selected at openside, with Peter O’Mahony switching to blindside and CJ Stander moving into the number eight jersey vacated by the injured Doris.
📄 𝗧𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗔𝗻𝗻𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 🟢
Head Coach Andy Farrell has named his Ireland Match Day 23 for the opening round of the #GuinnessSixNations against Wales in Cardiff 🙌#ShoulderToShoulder #IrishRugby #WALvIRE pic.twitter.com/OPv2Abiu2c
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 5, 2021
Meanwhile, New Zealand-born Lowe has been given the nod on the left flank, despite not having played since the defeat to England at Twickenham in November due to a groin issue.
Van Der Flier, who will win his 29th Test cap, started the first three games of the Farrell era early last year but played a peripheral part in the autumn campaign.
The 27-year-old’s inclusion in the starting XV comes ahead of Leinster team-mates Will Connors, who is among the replacements, and Rhys Ruddock.
Munster’s Tadhg Beirne has been named alongside James Ryan in the second row, with Ulster captain Iain Henderson providing cover from the bench following a knee problem.
Leinster tighthead Tadhg Furlong, who returned from almost a year out with injury by playing for Leinster last weekend, is also among the replacements.
Farrell has stuck with the fairly settled front row of Cian Healy, hooker Rob Herring and Andrew Porter for the trip to the Principality Stadium.
Captain Johnny Sexton has shaken off a hamstring niggle to resume his long-standing half-back partnership with Conor Murray.
Sexton’s Leinster team-mates Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw make up the midfield.
With Jacob Stockdale not in the squad due to injury, Hugo Keenan will play at full-back, with Lowe and Keith Earls – Ireland’s second highest try scorer – selected on the flanks.
Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Jamison Gibson-Park, Billy Burns and the fit-again Jordan Larmour join Furlong, Henderson and Connors on the bench.