By Brendan Cole
Joe Schmidt has made no changes to his starting XV to face England in the RBS 6 Nations on Saturday, but has brought in two new faces on the replacements bench.
With a two-week lead-in to the clash with England, the head coach has backed the entire starting side that comprehensively beat Wales at Aviva Stadium.
However, he has changed two of his replacement forwards with Iain Henderson coming in for Dan Tuohy, who is unavailable due to injury, and Jordi Murphy replacing Tommy O’Donnell.
Tuohy is unavailable due to a fractured arm sustained when he came off the bench in the Wales game.
Henderson has already appeared in this year’s Six Nations, coming on as a replacement against Scotland in Ireland’s opening win after he was a late addition to the matchday squad due to squad captain Paul O’Connell’s chest infection.
Munster second-row Donnacha Ryan, available for the first time this season after returning to provincial action against Zebre at the weekend, misses out on a place in the matchday squad.
Murphy, who will win his first cap if he comes off the bench, replaces a powerful ball-carrier in O’Donnell.
The 22-year-old has impressed with his ability to cover ground and compete on the deck this year, and put in an impressive performance off the bench against England Saxons before the start of the tournament proper.
In the centre, Brian O’Driscoll is named to start despite a stomach bug that saw him miss training earlier this week. The centre will win a world-record equalling 139th Test cap (130 for Ireland; 8 for the Lions), putting him alongside Australia’s George Gregan in the all-time list.
Gordon D’Arcy is again preferred to Luke Marshall and will start alongside O'Driscoll at 12. Conor Murray, Jonathan Sexton, Dave Kearney, Andrew Trimble and Rob Kearney complete the backline.
Up front, Jamie Heaslip, Chris Henry and Peter O’Mahony, who won man-of-the-match against Wales continue as the starting back-row, with O’Connell, Devin Toner, Mike Ross, Rory Best and Cian Healy the starting tight five.
On the bench, Paddy Jackson and Isaac Boss are once again the back-up half-back pairing, with Fergus McFadden covering the rest of the backline. Boss, the victim of a tip-tackle towards the end of Leinster’s win over Newport-Gwent Dragons at the weekend, has been judged fit to play after undergoing ‘return to play’ protocols.
In the front row, Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Marty Moore will again perform the support roles off the bench after effective outings against Scotland and Wales.
Ireland: Rob Kearney (Leinster); Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster), Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster), Dave Kearney (Leinster); Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro), Conor Murray (Munster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Paul O'Connell (Munster) capt; Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: Sean Cronin (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Martin Moore (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Jordi Murphy (Leinster), Isaac Boss (Leinster), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster).
Live television coverage of the RBS 6 Nations from 19:30 on Friday 21 February (Wales v France) and 13:00 on Saturday 22 February (Italy v Scotland and England v Ireland) on RTÉ Two and RTE.ie (Ireland only). Live radio coverage of England v Ireland on Saturday Sport (14:00) on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).