Head Coach Andy Farrell has named his Ireland Match Day Squad for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup clash against Tonga in Nantes (Kick-off 9pm local time/8pm Irish time).
Having opened their Rugby World Cup campaign with a 12-try victory over Romania in Bordeaux last weekend, Ireland head to Stade de la Beaujoire on Saturday night for their second Pool B outing.
Farrell has made two changes in personnel to his backline as Mack Hansen and Conor Murray are named in the starting XV, while Ronan Kelleher and Josh van der Flier come into the pack.
Hansen is selected in the back three alongside Hugo Keenan and James Lowe, with Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose continuing their midfield partnership. Murray comes into the scrum-half position to partner captain Jonathan Sexton in the half-backs.
Up front, Kelleher starts alongside Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong, with Tadhg Beirne shifting to the second row to pack down alongside James Ryan.
Last weekend’s Player of the Match, Peter O’Mahony, is named at blindside, with van der Flier at openside and Caelan Doris at number eight.
The changes mean that Jamison Gibson-Park, Keith Earls, Joe McCarthy and drop out of the match day squad for this game while rob Herring has a place on the replacements.
This will be Tonga’s opening game at the tournament. Ireland are 500 to one on to win the game and have been given a 38 point handicap by bookmakers BoyleSports.
No international match is ever easy but this will be a precursor for the potentially bigger challenges that lie ahead in Sounth Africa and Scotland.
There are a number of players on the replacements bench in line for their Rugby World Cup debuts, as David Kilcoyne and Finlay Bealham join Rob Herring as the front row reinforcements, while Iain Henderson and Ryan Baird cover second row and back row respectively. Craig Casey, Ross Byrne and Robbie Henshaw complete the Match Day 23.
As Team B for the fixture, Ireland will wear their Canterbury alternate kit for Saturday’s match as part of World Rugby’s colour blindness protocols.
All the action is live on RTÉ2 in Republic of Ireland and ITV in the United Kingdom.