Cronin gets first Six Nations start with Carty set for Ireland debut in Italy

SEAN CRONIN WILL make his first Six Nations start for Ireland in Sunday’s clash with Italy in Rome [KO 3pm Irish time, Virgin Media].

The 32-year-old Leinster hooker will win his 68th cap for Ireland but, incredibly, he has never started a game in the championship before.

Cronin will make his first Six Nations start for Ireland in Rome. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Meanwhile, Connacht out-half Jack Carty is set for his Ireland debut off the bench at Stadio Olimpico.

The introduction of Cronin is one of four changes head coach Joe Schmidt has made to the starting XV that beat Scotland in round two, all of them coming in the pack.

With regular captain Rory Best rested, Munster man Peter O’Mahony leads the team.

Dave Kilcoyne gets an opportunity at loosehead prop, while Ultan Dillane comes into the second row and Ulster’s Jordi Murphy starts at number eight.

Schmidt has named an unchanged backline of Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray, although it’s understood that injuries to Joey Carbery [hamstring] and Jordan Larmour [finger] tied his hands in that regard. Robbie Henshaw remains on the comeback trail.

Similarly, it’s understood that Jack Conan [abdominal injury] picked up an injury in training this week, meaning Murphy gets a starting opportunity in the number eight short.

Dillane comes into the second row to partner Connacht team-mate Quinn Roux, while Cronin and Kilcoyne make up the front row along with the retained Tadhg Furlong.

Jack Carty in Ireland training. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The experienced Sean O’Brien and O’Mahony continue in the back row alongside Murphy.

With Best and loosehead Cian Healy rested and Andrew Porter released to Leinster, Niall Scannell, Jack McGrath and John Ryan are set for their first appearances of this year’s championship off the bench.

Similarly, Iain Henderson returns from injury to provide second row back-up, while Andrew Conway is another player set to make his first appearance of the Six Nations after being named as the 23rd man. 

Ireland (v Italy):

15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Chris Farrell
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Sean Cronin
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Ultan Dillane
5. Quinn Roux
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jordi Murphy

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16. Niall Scannell
17. Jack McGrath
18. John Ryan
19. Iain Henderson
20. Josh van der Flier
21. John Cooney
22. Jack Carty
23. Andrew Conway

Murray Kinsella, Andy Dunne and Gavan Casey look ahead to Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Italy and discuss the week’s biggest stories in the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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