Six Nations: Italy v Ireland - Ireland player profiles

Joe Schmidt has made four changes to his starting XV for Sunday’s game in Rome

Dave Kilcoyne and Ultan Dillane will both start in the Ireland pack for Sunday’s Six Nations match against Italy in Rome. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Dave Kilcoyne and Ultan Dillane will both start in the Ireland pack for Sunday’s Six Nations match against Italy in Rome. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

15 Rob Kearney (Leinster)
Age: 32
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 95kg (14st 13lb)
Caps: 88
Helped Ireland restore some calm with his covering in the backfield against Scotland. He was dangerous with the ball in hand but guilty of tunnel vision in full-flight.

14 Keith Earls (Munster)
Age: 31
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 87kg (13st 9lbs)
Caps: 74
Earls bounced back in style against Scotland after a difficult 40 minutes against England, scoring a deserved try after supporting the breaking Carbery.

13 Chris Farrell (Munster)
Age: 25
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 110kg (17st 4lbs)
Caps: 3
Farrell’s long-awaited fourth cap saw him deliver a solid performance, carrying hard and straight and harassing Tommy Seymour into a crucial error.

12 Bundee Aki (Connacht)
Age: 28
Height: 6’
Weight: 101kg (15st 12lbs)
Caps: 14
Delivered another afternoon of grunt work in Edinburgh, dishing it out and receiving it in equal measure. Ireland’s midfield Gladiator will be looking forward to a slightly less bruising afternoon.

11 Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)
Age: 22
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 103kg (16st 3lbs)
Caps: 16
Back on the scoresheet at Murrayfield, an unstoppable finish up the middle. Will be licking his lips should Ireland finally inject some width into their back play.

10 Johnny Sexton (Leinster)
Age: 33
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 92kg (14st 6lbs)
Caps: 80
Forced off after 24 minutes in Edinburgh. Likely to stick around long enough to secure the points before Carty comes on to complete the Italian Job.

9 Conor Murray (Munster)
Age: 29
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 93kg (14st 6lbs)
Caps: 69
Much improved at Murrayfield, scoring a typically opportunistic try, but he is still feeling his way back into the Test arena. His radar is still off, but the Azzurri are less likely to capitalise on poor kicking.

1 Dave Kilcoyne (Munster)
Age: 30
Height: 6’0
Weight: 111kg (17st 5lbs)
Caps: 26
Given a chance to underline the qualities that he brings which is his barnstorming carrying and his fondness for a thumping tackle.

2 Seán Cronin (Leinster)
Age: 31
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 101kg (15st, 10lbs)
Caps: 67
Handed a rare opportunity to start. Expect the usual ferreting around the pitch, and perhaps even one of his trademark tries.

3 Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)
Age: 26
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 126kg (19st 11lbs)
Caps: 30
Not quite back to barnstorming best against Scotland yet he was still outstanding, an irresistible blend of power and poise. The big lad’s got balletic feet.

4 Ultan Dillane (Connacht)
Age: 25
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 116kg (18st 3lbs)
Caps: 12
Brilliant form all season for Connacht, very impressive off the bench against Scotland, and thoroughly deserves opportunity.

5 Quinn Roux (Connacht)
Age: 28
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 122kg (19st, 2lbs)
Caps: 10
Plugged the gap in the engine room admirably. Roux just needs to keep doing what he’s doing – even with Beirne and Henderson breathing down his neck.

6 Peter O’Mahony (Munster)
Age: 29
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 107kg (16st 11lbs)
Caps: 54
Constant thistle in Scotland’s side with ruthless work on the floor, and took Stuart Hogg out for good measure. Will fancy his chances of dominating the Italian backrow.

7 Seán O’Brien (Leinster)
Age: 31
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 108kg (17st)
Caps: 54
He struggled to stamp his authority on the Scots, but Rome provides a vital chance to get more minutes under his belt before the sterner tasks ahead.

8 Jordi Murphy (Ulster)
Age: 27
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 105kg (16st 6lbs)
Caps: 26
An important chance for him to lay down a World Cup marker. He has the versatility to play across the backrow and has been consistently excellent for Ulster.

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