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Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton return for Ireland but Jacob Stockdale to sit out Wales clash in Dublin

Conor Murray, left, and Johnny Sexton are Ireland’s key partnership (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Conor Murray, left, and Johnny Sexton are Ireland’s key partnership (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Rory Best will captain Ireland from the start of his final game in Dublin while Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton are paired together for the first time this season as Joe Schmidt recalls his heavy hitters for Saturday's final World Cup warm-up game against Wales.

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Sexton will return from thumb and leg injuries as Ireland's first-choice half-back pair look to get some valuable game time together before the squad departs for Japan next week.

After impressing off the bench in last week's win over a weakened Wales side, Best returns for what will be his final home appearance before retiring at the end of the World Cup.

Iain Henderson is named among the replacements while Jacob Stockdale is given a rest after his double try-scoring display in Wales last weekend.

Instead, Keith Earls and Jordan Larmour come in with Rob Kearney taking the place of Will Addison at full-back.

Also back in is Robbie Henshaw, who links up with Bundee Aki in midfield.

Cian Healy returns from an ankle issue to take his place alongside Best and Tadhg Furlong in the front-row of the scrum.

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After controversially omitting Devin Toner from his World Cup squad earlier this week, Schmidt gives the preferred Jean Kleyn a starting place alongside James Ryan, with Iain Henderson on the bench.

After being given last week off, CJ Stander and Josh van der Flier bolster the back-row with Jack Conan also included as Schmidt names two specialist number eights, serving to reinforce the interpretation that Joe Schmidt is going for power and dynamism in Japan, the two carriers getting their chance to show they can work together.

Schmidt has left Joey Carbery out of the squad, refusing to take any unnecessary risks on a player who is still working his way back to full fitness from the ankle injury he picked up in the win over Italy last month. The Munster out-half is however, expected to be fit for the World Cup opener against Scotland on September 22.

Ireland team to play Wales

R Kearney; J Larmour, R Henshaw, B Aki, K Earls; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best (capt), T Furlong; J Ryan, J Kleyn; CJ Stander, J van der Flier, J Conan

Replacements: S Cronin, D Kilcoyne, A Porter, I Henderson, R Ruddock, L McGrath, J Carty, G Ringrose

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