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Published: 12:28 | 14/3/19

Beirne to make Six Nations debut

Tadhg Beirne will make his Six Nations debut for Ireland against Wales on Saturday, while Sean O'Brien will return to the starting XV.

Beirne has not featured in the competition after picking up a knee injury in Munster's Heineken Champions Cup win over Exeter in January, but he will benefit from Iain Henderson's misfortune.

Henderson suffered a knee injury in the win over France last weekend and has been restricted in training, paving the way for Beirne to take his place in the second row alongside James Ryan.

O'Brien, meanwhile, returns to the starting XV after missing out on the matchday squad against France with the Leinster flanker coming in for Josh van der Flier, who is ruled out because of a groin injury.

Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander join O'Brien in the back row, while Cian Healy, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong take their place in the front row.

Rob Kearney was a late withdrawal against France after complaining of soreness but he has recovered and will start at full-back as Keith Earls and Jacob Stockdale are retained on the wings.

Garry Ringrose and Bundee Aki are reunited in the centre as Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray team up in the half-back line.

Ireland (XV v Wales): R Kearney; K Earls, G Ringrose, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, T Furlong, T Beirne, J Ryan, P O’Mahony, S O’Brien, CJ Stander.

Replacements: N Scannell, D Kilcoyne, A Porter, Q Roux, J Conan, K Marmion, J Carty, J Larmour.

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Inpho Photography/Billy Stickland

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