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Bealham expecting battle up front in Georgia clash

Bealham expecting battle up front in Georgia clash

Bealham expecting battle up front in Georgia clash

Ireland prop Finlay Bealham is expecting a tough test up front this weekend as Georgia travel to the Aviva Stadium for Round 3 of the Autumn Nations Cup.

The men in green will be looking to bounce back from their 18-7 defeat to England last time out and could wrap up second place in Group A with a victory in Dublin.

The Lelos come into the final fixture of the group stage without scoring a single point in either of their two matches in the competition, with Levan Maisashvili’s side shut out against both Wales and England in the last fortnight.

And despite their two previous defeats, Bealham – who has been named in an Irish starting XV for the first time in over two years for Sunday’ clash – knows the hosts will have to be on their game to earn the victory.

“They’ve always had a really strong set piece and some really big forwards,” the Connacht man said. “We know that’s going to be a huge area on the weekend. It’s an opportunity as well for us to go against a quality pack in Georgia, really test ourselves.

“Outside the forwards, they’ve got some really explosive backs who have a lot of size as well. They’ve been playing some good rugby.

“I know the results haven’t gone their way, but we’re under no illusions. It’s going to be a tough game and we’re preparing accordingly for that.”

Bealham comes into the Ireland side to earn his 14th international appearance this weekend, as he steps up into the starting line-up after Ed Byrne’s calf injury last week.

Andy Farrell has made nine changes to his side for the visit of the Lelos, with a number of players being given game time ahead of the final round of action next weekend.

Traditionally playing at tighthead, the 29-year-old will be starting on the other side of the scrum in Dublin, with Andrew Porter keeping his place at No.3 against Maisashvili’s troops.

Bealham’s versatility has earned him the call-up in Dublin, and in the build-up to Sunday’s showdown, he has plenty of role models in the Irish camp to lend him a helping hand in the unfamiliar role.

“I know obviously it’s a change from tighthead, but it’s something I’m confident in doing. Throughout camp, I kept my eye on the loosehead stuff, just in case something like this would happen,” Bealham said.

“I know it’s unfortunate for Ed that he couldn’t play at the weekend. I kept an eye on all the loosehead stuff, so thankfully the transition wasn’t too bad.

“I had to ask a lot of questions to the likes of Iain Henderson, James Ryan and Quinn Roux about lineouts and probably burned their ears out a little bit asking questions, but I had to do what I had to do to make sure I’d get through the detail.”

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