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Preview: Ireland v Italy

Preview: Ireland v Italy

Tom O'Toole

Ireland return to the Aviva Stadium for the first time since sealing their memorable Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam this weekend as the top-ranked side in the world get their Summer Nations Series campaign underway.

Italy lie in wait for Andy Farrell’s men and the Azzurri arrive having begun their own Summer Nations Series adventure last weekend, beaten 25-13 by Scotland in Edinburgh.

An expectant crowd will be in place in Dublin for the first of three home matches for Ireland over the next month, which they hope will leave them in the perfect place to challenge for the top prize in France.

Team news

The standout name in the Ireland side is Jacob Stockdale, back in the international fold after two years away.

He scored on his last Ireland appearance against Japan in July 2021 and will hope to pick up where he left off.

Jack Crowley fills in for the suspended Johnny Sexton at fly-half, joining Craig Casey in an all-Munster half-back pairing, while Henderson captains. Uncapped trio Tom Stewart, Ciaran Frawley and Calvin Nash could make their debuts from the bench.

The Azzurri side shows nine changes to that which ended on the losing side at Scottish Gas Murrayfield, with Paolo Odogwu brought in on the wing for his Italy bow.

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Harlequins lock Dino Lamb is also in line for a first international appearance while Tommaso Allan moves to full-back to accommodate the returning Paolo Garbisi at 10, with Stephen Varney starting at scrum-half.

Ones to watch

It is hard to look past the new – and returning – faces on either wing.

Stockdale was named Player of the Championship after lighting up the 2018 Guinness Six Nations, which also ended in an Irish Grand Slam, but injuries and the form of his fellow back-threes have limited his impact in recent years.

He has been backed by Ulster clubmate and this weekend’s skipper Iain Henderson to rediscover his form of old and book a seat on the plane to France while Odogwu will be hoping to do likewise opposite him.

The former Wasps wing trained with England during Eddie Jones’ time in charge but did not earn a senior cap and will be eager to make the most of this opportunity to show what he can do on the international stage.

Stat attack

  • Ireland have won 30 of their last 31 Tests against Italy (L1), including each of their last 13 by an average margin of 32 points. However, they conceded 20 points in their most recent Test against the Azzurri (34-20 in February), their most since last losing to Italy in 2013 (15-22).
  • Italy have won just one of their previous 18 matches against Ireland (L17), with their sole win coming back in 1997 (37-29).
  • Ireland have won each of their last 10 Test matches, including each of their last five by margins of 13+ points. It is Ireland’s longest winning run in men’s Test rugby since winning 12 in a row between March 2017 and March 2018.


Ireland: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Craig Casey; 1 David Kilcoyne, 2 Rob Herring, 3 Tom O’Toole, 4 Iain Henderson, 5 Joe McCarthy, 6 Ryan Baird, 7 Caelan Doris, 8 Jack Conan

Replacements: 16 Tom Stewart, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Cian Prendergast, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Ciaran Frawley, 23 Calvin Nash

Italy: 15 Tommaso Allan, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney; 1 Danilo Fischetti, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 3 Marco Riccioni, 4 Dino Lamb, 5 Federico Ruzza, 6 Sebastian Negri, 7 Manuel Zuliani, 8 Toa Halahifi

Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Paolo Buonfiglio, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 Niccolo Cannone, 20 Michele Lamaro, 21 Lorenzo Cannone, 22 Alessandro Fusco, 23 Lorenzo Pani

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