Major Shake-Up In The Predicted Ireland XV To Face Italy

Leavy is the form player available to Joe Schmidt with club team-mate Jordi Murphy next in line

"He is great at transferring the ball through contact and his lineout is improving too; there are a whole gambit of things he can bring to the party".

Leinster's up-and-coming winger Jordan Larmour looks set to to make his worldwide debut after the 20-year-old Dubliner was named on the bench, with Fergus McFadden dropping out of the squad, while Schmidt has stuck with the same back-line that started in Paris as Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton continue as half-backs.

Jack Conan starts at No 8 for his Six Nations debut, with CJ Stander dropping to the bench after putting in a mammoth shift in last weekend's 15-13 win over France in Paris.

Highly rated young tighthead prop Andrew Porter could also make his tournament bow off the bench, while flanker Dan Leavy will make his first Six Nations start.

The back-row is set for a make-over, with Dan Leavy and Jack Conan expected to come in, as CJ Stander drops to the bench.

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Jack McGrath, meanwhile, is preferred to Healy at loose-head, with Devin Toner replacing Ryan, who has a slight knee injury, in the second row.

James Ryan, 21, caught the eye on his Six Nations debut against the French but is rested entirely, potentially with one eye on a tougher day at the office at home to Wales in a fortnight's time.

"If Johnny didn't star this week and didn't play next weekend, then he would have two weekends when he wouldn't have played". That's what you're always balancing. "CJ Stander I think had 42 cleanouts and 23 carries in Paris, which while not attritional for CJ - he's in great shape - it's really probably rewarding some performance from Jack Conan in recent times as well".

Ireland team to face Italy: Kearney; Earls, Henshaw, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; McGrath, Best, Furlong; Toner, Henderson; O'Mahony, Leavy, Conan.

"But it's an opportunity to try to keep a freshness in these games, they do become if not anything else mentally challenging".

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