Italy v Ireland team news: Murphy and Stockdale start as Ireland make four changes for Six Nations trip
Ulster duo Jordi Murphy and Jacob Stockdale have both named in Ireland's starting line-up as Joe Schmidt shuffles his pack for the trip to Rome.
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Murphy comes in at number eight as Jack Conan misses the trip to face Italy on Sunday (kick-off 3pm) with abdominal tightness.
Schmidt confirmed that the Leinster man could have been rushed back to play but that he was happy to give Murphy his first Six Nations start since 2015.
Iain Henderson and John Cooney are among the replacements as second-row Henderson returns from injury and Cooney continues his quest for more international minutes.
Henderson played 80 minutes during Ulster's win over Ospreys last weekend after missing the opening two Six Nations fixtures with a finger injury.
Cooney featured for a total of eight minutes in those games against England and Scotland and will hope to be given longer to impress in Rome.
All four of Schmidt's changes come in the pack as Sean Cronin makes his first start of the campaign in the front row alongside Dave Kilcoyne, handed a rare starting berth.
On his 68th cap and his 33rd appearance in the tournament, incredibly this will be Cronin's first time wearing the number two jersey in the Six Nations. With Rory Best and Cian Healy given the weekend off, Jack McGrath has earned a recall on the bench.
Ultan Dillane joins Connacht team-mate Quinn Roux in the second row while number eight Murphy plays alongside Peter O'Mahony and Sean O'Brien in the back row.
Chris Farrell has overcome a knee injury to retain his place in the starting XV as does Rob Kearney at full-back.
As expected, Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton continue at half-back as the influential pair look to find their form.
In-form Connacht out-half Jack Carty is in line to make his international debut from the bench as Joey Carbery misses out through an injury picked up in training on Wednesday.
Having fallen out of favour in recent games, McGrath will be eager to impress from the bench as will Niall Scannell and John Ryan. Andrew Conway is also back in the squad as the 23rd man.
Meanwhile, Iraly have made five changes to their side for Ireland's visit. The experienced Sergio Parisse misses out have suffered a concussion while playing for Stade Francais last weekend. Braam Steyn shifts to number eight with Maxime Mbanda coming in at flanker.
Jimmy Tuivaiti replaces Sebastian Negri at flanker while lock Federico Ruzza makes his first international start in place of David Sisi and Andrea Lovotti comes into the front row in place of Nicola Quaglio.
The only change in the back line sees scrum-half Tito Tebaldi replace Guglielmo Palazzani.
Ireland team to face Italy
15-9: Rob Kearney; Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray
1-8: Dave Kilcoyne, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong; Quinn Roux, Ultan Dillane; Peter O'Mahony (capt), Sean O'Brien, Jordi Murphy.
Replacements: Niall Scannell, Jack McGrath, James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Josh van der Flier, John Cooney, Jack Carty, Andrew Conway.
Italy team to face Ireland
15-9: Jayden Hayward, Edoardo Padovani, Michele Campagnaro, Luca Morisi, Angelo Esposito, Tommaso Allan, Tito Tebaldi
1-8: Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini (captain), Simone Ferrari, Federico Ruzza, Dean Budd, Jimmy Tuivaiti, Maxime Mbanda, Braam Steyn
Replacements: Luca Bigi, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, David Sisi, Alessandro Zanni, Guglielmo Palazzani, Ian McKinley, Tommaso Castello.
Belfast Telegraph Digital