Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Ireland stick with same starting XV

Jonathan Sexton

Ireland have named an unchanged starting XV for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy at the Aviva Stadium.

Jonathan Sexton has made a full recovery from the thigh muscle injury sustained before the postponed match against France and starts at fly-half.

The fixture launches a gruelling schedule of four games in as many weeks as Ireland suffer the consequences of the aborted showdown at the Stade de France.

Once Italy have been negotiated, they must relocate to Paris on March 4 before preparing for a six-day turnaround to face Scotland. They conclude their championship against England at Twickenham on March 17.

"We were tempted to make changes to the team. We had a long discussion about it," coach Declan Kidney said.

"But this team was good enough to play France so it's good enough to play against Italy as well.

"We need to approach this game by game, rather than as a block of four fixtures, and that's what we're doing."

Ireland team: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), K Earls (Munster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster, capt), S Ferris (Ulster), S O'Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster).

Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster), T Court (Ulster), D Ryan (Munster), P O'Mahony (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster), F McFadden (Leinster).