Joe Schmidt has confirmed Athlone's Robbie Henshaw as Ireland's starting full-back, rather than in the centre, in their opening game for the 2019 Guinness Six Nations Championship against England, in the Aviva Stadium this Saturday.
The 25-year-old Buccaneers and Leinster player comes into the team for Rob Kearney, in one of two changes to the team that beat the All Blacks last November. He last played at full-back for Ireland on his debut as a teenager in 2013 when Ireland narrowly beat the United States in Houston, Texas.
Henshaw will be particularly pleased to be named as full-back, having gone on record as saying that it is his preferred playing position. The Athlone native regularly lined out at full-back during his final season at Connaught, but has almost exclusively been used as a centre since joining Leinster where he has won 35 caps as a midfield player.
Rob Kearney has been hit with injury since the win over the All Blacks and has only played three times for Leinster, most recently against Scarlets last Friday. Henshaw, however, has just one appearance since his last outing in October but was selected to travel to Portugal for the pre-tournament camp.
Kick-off for the Ireland V England game is 4.45pm at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
The full Irish team & replacements is as follows:
15. Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster)
14. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster)
12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht)
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
10. Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
1. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 112 (c)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
4. Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
5. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster)
6. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)
7. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster)
8. CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster)
16. Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
17. David Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster)
18. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster)
19. Quinn Roux (Connacht)
20. Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)
21. John Cooney (Ulster)
22. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster)
23. Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)