Rugby-Sexton starts but no Furlong for Ireland against Wales

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - England v Ireland - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - March 12, 2022 Ireland's Johnny Sexton reacts Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs/File Photo

(Reuters) -Johnny Sexton has recovered from a facial injury and will captain Ireland from flyhalf but prop Tadhg Furlong has been ruled out of their Six Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

Furlong has not played since December after ankle, hamstring and calf injuries, but had hoped to be fit to return against the Welsh. His place in the side is taken by Finlay Bealham, who gets the nod ahead of Tom O’Toole.

"Finlay deserves it," Ireland coach Andy Farrell told reporters on Thursday. "He's playing very well, last time out he scored a hat-trick (of tries for Connacht against Newcastle Falcons in the Challenge Cup)."

Furlong is expected to return for Ireland’s crucial second clash against France in Dublin on Feb. 11.

Sexton has recovered from surgery to his cheekbone and starts alongside scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park. Stuart McCloskey and Garry Ringrose continue their partnership in the midfield. Hugo Keenan is at fullback, and Mack Hansen and James Lowe on the wings.

Bealham will pack down in the front row of the scrum with fellow prop Andrew Porter, with hooker Dan Sheehan between them.

Tadhg Beirne and James Ryan are the lock pairing, while Caelan Doris is at number eight, and Josh van der Flier and Peter O’Mahony on either flank.

Farrell confirmed the roof at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff will be closed for the match.

"We wanted it closed to sample the atmosphere and keep progressing on our journey. When the roof is closed there is no atmosphere like it. It's a fantastic stadium," he said.

The coach also dismissed opposite number Warren Gatland's notion that this was a "free shot" for Wales as they were heavy underdogs against the number one ranked Irish.

"There's no free shot in test rugby. Maybe I'll buy him a free shot after the game," Farrell said.

Ireland have won five of their last six tests against Wales, but did lose 21-16 on their last visit to Cardiff in 2021.

Ireland team:

15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 25 caps

14. Mack Hansen (Connacht) 8 caps

13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 47 caps

12. Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 9 caps

11. James Lowe (Leinster) 15 caps

10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 109 caps

9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 23 caps

1. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 48 caps

2. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 13 caps

3. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 27 caps

4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 36 caps

5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 48 caps

6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 89 caps

7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 45 caps

8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 23 caps


16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 31 caps

17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 121 caps

18. Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 4 caps

19. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 68 caps

20. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 33 caps

21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 100 caps

22. Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 4 caps

23. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 41 caps

(Reporting by Nick SaidEditing by Toby Davis)

Article type: free
User access status:
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Next In Rugby

Rugby-Ireland's Sexton likely out of rest of club season
Rugby-Scotland full back Hogg to retire after World Cup
Rugby-Welsh clubs vote to include more women on governing body's board
Rugby-Chiefs stay perfect, Crusaders hand Brumbies first loss
Rugby-Australia coach Jones pans New Zealand over All Blacks coach appointment
Rugby-Brumbies face Crusaders demons without Wallabies weapons
Rugby-Australian women emerge from amateur era in sixth season of Super W
Rugby-Jones brings in Hatley as Wallabies scrum coach
Rugby-RFU launches study aimed at boosting visibility of women's game
Rugby-England's Steward has red card rescinded

Others Also Read