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Andy Farrell names Ireland squad for Six Nations opener

Andy Farrell

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has uncapped duo Caelan Doris and Ronan Kelleher in his matchday-23 to face Scotland in their opening match of the Six Nations.

Leinster No.8 Doris will make his debut in the back row accompanied by CJ Stander and Josh van der Flier, while club teammate Kelleher is named as the replacement hooker.

For Doris, it is his first foray into Test rugby having captained the Ireland U20 side in 2018.

His inclusion means there is no place for Peter O’Mahony in the back row, with a Munster flanker taking a place along with Kelleher on the bench.

Ten players who started in Ireland’s miserable 46-14 World Cup quarter-final defeat to the All Blacks retain their place for the match at the Aviva Stadium.

Captained by Johnny Sexton, a centre partnership of Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose will aim to control the midfield and offer opportunities to a back three of Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour in attack.

Head coach Farrell asserted that the scars of the World Cup had not affected his judgement and that all players can play with on a clean slate.

“It was difficult, exactly how it should be. We have a very competitive squad and the lads have been in great form. But we’ve got to make a decision and we have a hell of a squad going into the Scotland game.” Farrell said.

“We’ve been pretty open with having a clean slate as far as selection is concerned. We wanted to see how people came into camp with us watching from afar where form is concerned.

“Caelan is super excited and Ronan is coming back from injury but he is in and done everything with us so far, and he’s looking solid.”

One of the major talking points stems from the selection of Conor Murray at scrum-half, who has faced stiff competition from red-hot Ulster No.9 John Cooney and Leinster’s Luke McGrath.

Murray’s dip in form has brought his place in the side into question, after struggling with a neck injury early last year and failing to find his spark during the World Cup.

Farrell commented: “It’s unbelievably tough because Luke McGrath misses out and he’s been playing really well.

“Conor has been great in and around the group. His calmness under pressure has been great. He is raring to go.

“John, everyone knows what type of form he is in. He’s had a few protocols this week as far as his HIA is concerned. He’s got a couple of sessions under his belt and is ready to go.

“We have had three really competitive training sessions and Luke has been right up there, but someone has to miss out.”

Ireland haven’t lost to Scotland in Dublin since 2010, when a Dan Parks penalty snatched a last-gasp 23-20 victory in the Six Nations at Croke Park.

Ireland team to play Scotland (Saturday, Aviva Stadium, 4:45pm)

Ireland: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton (capt), 9 Conor Murray; 1 Cian Healy, 2 Rob Herring, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Iain Henderson, 5 James Ryan, 6 CJ Stander, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 Caelan Doris*

Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher*, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Robbie Henshaw

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