Munster Rugby lock Tadhg Beirne, a double Heineken Man of the Match award-winner in the province’s progress to the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals, will make his Six Nations Championship debut for Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday.
The 27-year-old, who played in all six of Munster’s Pool 2 games, replaces injured Ulster Rugby second row Iain Henderson as Joe Schmidt’s side bid to halt Wales’ Grand Slam bid.
He is joined in the Ireland XV by four team-mates who will hope to face Edinburgh Rugby in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals at BT Murrayfield on March 30. They are right wing Keith Earls, scrum-half Conor Murray, flanker Peter O’Mahony and No.8 CJ Stander.
Beirne is one of three changes to the Ireland team who beat France last week. The others see fit-again Rob Kearney return at full-back for Leinster Rugby team-mate Jordan Larmour and Sean O’Brien replace fellow Leinster flanker Josh van der Flier, who is injured.
The Ireland team has been named for Saturday's clash against Wales with Tadhg Beirne set to make his first #GuinnessSixNations start.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) March 14, 2019
Kearney and O’Brien therefore keep the Leinster contingent in the Ireland XV at seven, with just over two weeks to go before their Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Ulster at the Aviva Stadium on March 30.
They are joined by centre Garry Ringrose, fly-half Johnny Sexton, props Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy, and lock James Ryan.
Meanwhile, Wales have chosen an unchanged XV for Saturday, after Saracens full-back Liam Williams passed a fitness test.