Robbie Henshaw makes World Cup bow as he's named in 15 to face Italy
Robbie Henshaw will make his World Cup debut against Italy on Sunday after overcoming the hamstring injury that has kept him out of Ireland’s opening two pool victories.
The 22-year old will partner the in-form Keith Earls who switches from the left wing to form a new-look midfield partnership.
Jared Payne (foot) misses out through injury as does Rob Kearney (glute), so Simon Zebo starts again at fullback.
The Munster flyer impressed against Romania last week and will be eager to further stake his claim for selection.
Tommy Bowe also retains his place on the wing with Dave Kearney coming back into the side on the opposite side.
As expected, Iain Henderson gets the nod ahead of Devin Toner who is amongst the replacements with the versatile Donnacha Ryan missing out completely.
Joe Schmidt has opted for Jack McGrath ahead of Cian Healy but the expectation is that the latter will be given enough time from the bench to put his hand up ahead of the clash against France next week.
Schmidt has otherwise named a full strength side with Luke Fitzgerald covering from the bench.
Sergio Parisse is expected to be included in the Italy side when they name their starting XV at 2.0.
Ireland – S Zebo; T Bowe, K Earls, R Henshaw, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O’Connell (capt); P O’Mahony, S O’Brien, J Heaslip. Reps – S Cronin, C Healy, N White, D Toner, C Henry, E Reddan, I Madigan, L Fitzgerald.