James Lowe makes Ireland debut as Andy Farrell names side for Wales

Leinster wing to earn first Test cap in Friday night’s Autumn Nations Cup opener

Ireland coach Andy Farrell continues to hand out new caps with James Lowe completing his journey from All Blacks squad member to Ireland starter against Wales on Friday night at the Aviva stadium.

Ulster’s Billy Burns, who guided England to a Junior World Cup title in 2014, is named on the bench as outhalf cover ahead of Leinster’s Ross Byrne.

Johnny Sexton continues as captain.

“Billy gets his chance,” said Farrell. “Ross has played a few games for us and done well in the past. Billy is somebody we looked at before lockdown and he was great in training then. He has come back fit and we are giving him an opportunity to show what he has got on the international stage.”

In 2020, Farrell has already exposed Ronán Kelleher, Caelan Doris, Ed Byrne, Hugo Keenan, Will Connors and Jamison Gibson Park to Test match rugby.

“Certainly it is the way it has happened in the sense that we have had quite a few injuries,” said Farrell. “Also, there are injuries to guys that would have been in his plans going forward. You can work them out for yourselves. It is what it is.”

Ryan Baird, Tadhg Furlong, Dave Kilcoyne, Jordan Larmour and Garry Ringrose are unavailable.

“We are planning for the here and now and the future. We will keep on doing that.”

Jacob Stockdale is retained at fullback, a decision that may have been influenced by injury to Munster’s Shane Daly.

“It’s only a couple of games ago that everybody was saying Jacob is the answer. There are a few things he needs to put right from the last game [at Stade de France] but he gets an opportunity to go again.”

Gibson-Park, who played New Zealand schools alongside Lowe, makes his first start at scrumhalf with Conor Murray rotated to the bench.

Iain Henderson returns from suspension - to bring a much needed boost to a lineout that struggled badly in Paris - and Keith Earls is fit enough to strengthen a replacements bench that also includes South African lock Quinn Roux.

“Some guys get a chance to show what they are about, others are getting another chance.”

With CJ Stander and Bundee Aki rested, Doris has an opportunity at number eight, his natural position, in a backrow that includes Josh van der Flier and Peter O’Mahony, while Chris Farrell runs at 13 alongside Robbie Henshaw.

Ireland team to play Wales: Jacob Stockdale; Hugo Keenan, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher, Andrew Porter; Iain Henderson, James Ryan; Peter O'Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris. Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Ed Byrne, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, Will Connors, Conor Murray, Billy Burns, Keith Earls.

Latest Stories