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Sexton starts for Ireland as Farrell makes six changes for Scotland showdown

Sexton starts for Ireland as Farrell makes six changes for Scotland showdown

Sexton starts for Ireland as Farrell makes six changes for Scotland showdown

Andy Farrell has made six changes for Ireland’s 3rd/4th place play-off with Scotland at the Aviva Stadium this weekend, with Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw among those returning to the starting XV.

Both sides will be looking to end the year on a high this weekend after finishing second in their respective groups, and neither will be prepared to give an inch come Saturday afternoon.

Sexton and Henshaw both left the field injured in the Autumn Nations Cup curtain-raiser against Wales in November but have been deemed fit enough to return in Dublin, with Billy Burns and Stuart McCloskey the men to make way.

Leinster fly-half Sexton will captain the side for the showdown with Gregor Townsend’s troops, and will be reunited with Conor Murray in the half-backs.

Henshaw also returns at inside centre alongside Bundee Aki, while Jacob Stockdale continues at full-back, with Keith Earls and Hugo Keenan on the wings in an otherwise unchanged backline.

Up front, Cian Healy returns to the fold, and will partner Andrew Porter at prop, with Rob Herring as hooker, while James Ryan and Iain Henderson continue in the second row.

Farrell has tinkered with the back row for the final international match of the year, with Peter O’Mahony returning, and CJ Stander sliding across to blindside flanker to make room for Caelan Doris at No.8.

Ulster prop Eric O’Sullivan is in line for his first international appearance from the bench if called upon on Saturday, with the 25-year-old rewarded for his impressive performances in the Guinness PRO14.

Ronan Kelleher, John Ryan, Quinn Roux and Josh van Der Flier are all among the replacements at the Aviva Stadium, with Jamison Gibson Park, Ross Byrne and Chris Farrell providing the backline cover from the bench.

Ireland starting XV to face Scotland

15. Jacob Stockdale (32 caps)
14. Hugo Keenan (5 caps)
13. Bundee Aki (29 caps)
12. Robbie Henshaw (46 caps)
11. Keith Earls (87 caps)
10. Jonathan Sexton (94 caps, Captain)
9. Conor Murray (86 caps)
1. Cian Healy (103 caps)
2. Rob Herring (15 caps)
3. Andrew Porter (31 caps)
4. Iain Henderson (57 caps)
5. James Ryan (31 caps)
6. CJ Stander (45 caps)
7. Peter O’Mahony (72 caps)
8. Caelan Doris (6 caps)

Replacements:

16. Ronan Kelleher (5 caps)
17. Eric O’Sullivan (Uncapped)
18. John Ryan (22 caps)
19. Quinn Roux (15 caps)
20. Josh van der Flier (27 caps)
21. Jamison Gibson Park (4 caps)
22. Ross Byrne (10 caps)
23. Chris Farrell (13 caps)

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