Ireland team named: Ciarán Frawley starts at fullback with Oli Jager on bench against Wales

Peter O’Mahony starts and captains as Ireland opt for six forwards among the replacements for third Six Nations match

Ciarán Frawley has been named at fullback in place of the injured Hugo Keenan in the Irish team to face Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm). Frawley aside, Andy Farrell has reverted to the starting XV which started the Guinness Six Nations campaign with a 38-17 win over France in Marseille by also recalling six frontliners.

The bench features Oli Jager, meaning that Munster’s recent 30-year-old recruit from the Crusaders is in line to make his international debut.

Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony and Bundee Aki - who all missed the Italian game at least partly through injury - have been restored to the starting team. So too Josh van der Flier and Jamison Gibson-Park, who were replacements against the Azzurri.

Caelan Doris duly reverts from openside to number eight and the captaincy is back with O’Mahony. Farrell and his assistant coaches have also decided to revert to a 6-2 split on the bench, which was used for the first time ever by an Irish team on that opening night in Marseille.


Cian Healy has been restored to the 23, whereas Finlay Bealham drops out altogether, while James Ryan, Ryan Baird and Jack Conan - all of whom were replacements in the Stade Velodrome before starting at home against Italy last Sunday week - are accommodated on the bench.

Conor Murray, rested against the Italians, is recalled to the bench as Craig Casey also drops out of the matchday squad, and the versatility of Jack Crowley and Frawley allows Farrell to retain his penchant for selecting big centres on the bench by naming Stuart McCloskey, who started against Italy.

Effectively therefore, the only changes from the match-day 23 from that win over France are Frawley being promoted from the bench to replace Keenan, with Jager and McCloskey being added to the replacements. This means there is no obvious cover for wing, with presumably either Robbie Henshaw or Gibson-Park obliged to do so if required.

Keenan has started 32 of Ireland’s 36 matches at fullback before suffering a knee injury in the second-half against Italy, while Jimmy O’Brien (who filled the jersey on the last three occasions when Keenan was absent) is sidelined for months with a neck injury, and Mack Hansen also hors de combat with a dislocated shoulder.

Hence the 26-year-old Frawley will make his first Test start after winning two caps off the bench, against Italy in the World Cup warm-up and for the last two minutes in Marseille. The versatile Skerries man has been more familiar with outhalf (12 starts) and inside centre (24 starts) in his time with Leinster, but six of his starts have been at full-back this season.

IRELAND: Ciarán Frawley (Leinster); Calvin Nash (Munster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Bundee Aki (Connacht), James Lowe (Leinster); Jack Crowley (Munster), Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster); Andrew Porter (Leinster), Dan Sheehan (Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster); Joe McCarthy (Leinster), Tadhg Beirne (Munster); Peter O’Mahony (Munster, capt), Josh van der Flier (Leinster), Caealan Doris (Leinster).

Replacements: Rónan Kelleher (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Oli Jager (Munster), James Ryan (Leinster), Ryan Baird (Leinster), Jack Conan (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster).

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times