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Thursday 14 December 2017

Payne set to renew centre partnership with Henshaw

Ireland team manager Mick Kearney
Ireland team manager Mick Kearney

Jared Payne is fit and likely to return for Ireland against Italy in the Six Nations.

"He is feeling great. There are absolutely no issues with Jared," said Team Manager Mick Kearney.

The availability of the centre will give coach Joe Schmidt a selection conundrum with the odds favouring the renewal of Payne's partnership with Robbie Henshaw. Tommy O'Donnell was the only member of the extended 35-man squad not to train yesterday as a consequence of the stinger he received for Munster.

Jack O'Donoghue and Finlay Bealham are the two uncapped names in Ireland's squad. The 22 year-old rangy back row has been on Joe Schmidt's radar for some time.

"Jack is in for the first time. He's played over 20 games for Munster this year, he's played over 1200 minutes, I think" said Kearney.

Great

"I think it's great for Jack to get the experience of being involved in the squad for the first time."

The inclusion of Bealham, 24, must come as a blow to Tadhg Furlong given how the Wexford was sent to the World Cup as cover for both sides of the scrum. "Finlay has played really well for Connacht on both sides of the scrum.

"He's a very big unit, I think he's 120kg and has shown up very well since he came in."

IRELAND 35-MAN SQUAD (prepare for Italy and Scotland)

Forwards (19) - Hookers: R Best (capt), S Cronin, R Strauss. Props: F Bealham*, C Healy, J McGrath, M Ross, N White. Second rows: U Dillane, D Foley, D Ryan, D Toner. Back rows: J Heaslip, J Murphy, T O'Donnell, J O'Donoghue*, R Ruddock, CJ Stander, J van der Flier.

Backs (16) - Scrum-halves: K Marmion, C Murray. E Reddan. Out-halves: P Jackson, I Madigan, J Sexton. Wings: K Earls, C Gilroy, A Trimble, F McFadden. Centres: R Henshaw, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Payne. Full-backs: R Kearney, S Zebo.

*denotes uncapped players

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