Irish head coach Joe Schmidt has made five changes to his side’s Six Nations starting team for Ireland vs. Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Test rookie Andrew Porter will be tasked with anchoring Ireland’s scrum in his first Six Nations start after being named at tighthead after Tadhg Furlong failed to beat his hamstring injury in time for the clash.
Munster centre Chris Farrell will also make his first Six Nations start against Warren Gatland’s Wales, while Devin Toner starts at lock with Iain Henderson also missing through hamstring trouble.
Porter scrambled from the bench just three minutes into Ireland’s 56-19 win over Italy, when Furlong pulled up with his hamstring issue.
The 22-year-old acquitted himself well against the Azzurri, but now faces an entirely different proposition in a serious baptism of Test-match fire for his fifth cap, against Wales this weekend.
Ireland and Leinster have, however, long held high hopes for the physical Under-20s graduate, who only made his Test debut in June 2017.
Munster centre Farrell slots in for Robbie Henshaw, now sidelined for up to four months after a dislocated shoulder.
The former Ulster midfielder won both his Test caps in Ireland’s autumn campaign, and will link up with Bundee Aki again, in an inexperienced centre partnership Wales will clearly seek to exploit.
Ireland team to face Wales
R Kearney, Earls, Farrell, Aki, Stockdale, Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best, Porter, Toner, Ja Ryan, O’Mahony, Leavy, Stander.
Replacements: Cronin, J McGrath, Jo Ryan, Roux, Conan, Marmion, Carbery, McFadden.
More to follow