Iain Henderson misses out as Ireland name team to face Wales
Ulster lock Iain Henderson will miss Ireland's final Six Nations game at Wales on Saturday after being ruled out with a knee injury sustained in the win over France.
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Henderson struck up an excellent partnership with James Ryan in the second row last weekend, however the pair have been forced apart again with the Ulsterman ruled out of the game at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
Instead, it'll be a first start of the Championship for Munster's Tadhg Beirne, who comes into the second row as a like-for-like replacement for Henderson and is one of just two changes to the starting line-up for Joe Schmidt.
The other comes in the back row where Sean O'Brien is preferred to Dan Leavy at openside flanker, where he replaces Josh van der Flier who started against France in Dublin.
That means there are only two Ulstermen in the matchday squad for Saturday's game, hooker and captain Rory Best and winger Jacob Stockdale the pair of representatives for the northern province.
Rob Kearney is restored to the full-back jersey after being a late withdrawal ahead of last week's game, with his replacement, Jordan Larmour, having to settle for a place among the replacements again.
On the opposite wing to Stockdale, Munster's Keith Earls maintains his place in the squad, while the centre pairing of Garry Ringrose and Bundee Aki is unchanged, as is the half-back duo of Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton.
Up front, while there are alterations at lock and flanker, the front row remains a constant as Cian Healy, Best and Tadhg Furlong are trusted to continue their strong showings in the scrum.
Ryan is joined by Beirne in the engine room, while O'Brien is on the openside of a back row that also contains Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander.
On the bench, there is no room for Ulster's Rob Herring as Munster hooker Niall Scannell gets the nod to back up Best, with provincial team-mates Dave Kilcoyne the loosehead sub and Leinster' Andrew Porter the tighthead replacement.
Connacht have three squad representatives in Quinn Roux, Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty, all three of whom are among the substitutes, while Leinster duo Jack Conan and Larmour round out the impact men.
Meanwhile, Wales have named an entirely unchanged matchday squad to face Ireland from the one that defeated Scotland a week ago.
Ireland team to face Wales (Saturday, 2.45pm; Principality Stadium, Cardiff; Six Nations)
15. Rob Kearney (Leinster); 14. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster), 13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster), 12. Bundee Aki (Connacht), 11. Keith Earls (Munster); 10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), 9. Conor Murray (Munster); 1. Cian Healy (Leinster), 2. Rory Best (Ulster, captain), 3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster); 4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster), 5. James Ryan (Leinster); 6. Peter O'Mahony (Munster), 7. Sean O'Brien (Leinster), 8. CJ Stander (Munster).
Replacements: 16. Niall Scannell (Munster), 17. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), 18. Andrew Porter (Leinster), 19. Quinn Roux (Connacht), 20. Jack Conan (Leinster), 21. Kieran Marmion (Connacht), 22. Jack Carty (Connacht), 23. Jordan Larmour (Leinster).
15. Liam Williams (Saracens); 14. George North (Ospreys), 13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), 12. Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), 11. Josh Adams (Worcester); 10. Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff), 9. Gareth Davies (Scarlets); 1. Rob Evans (Scarlets), 2. Ken Owens (Scarlets), 3. Tomas Francis (Exeter); 4. Adam Beard (Ospreys), 5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, captain); 6. Josh Navidi (Cardiff), 7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), 8. Ross Moriarty (Dragons).
Replacements: 16. Elliot Dee (Dragons), 17. Nicky Smith (Ospreys), 18. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff), 19. Jake Ball (Scarlets), 20. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons), 21. Aled Davies (Ospreys), 22. Dan Biggar (Northampton), 23. Owen Watkin (Ospreys).
Belfast Telegraph Digital