Ireland's preparations for Saturday's Guinness Six Nations opener against Wales have hit a major bump, after Tadhg Furlong was ruled out at the last minute.

The tighthead hasn't played since December due to a calf injury, but had been on track to play after training fully this week, but a late knock has seen him miss out, with Finlay Bealham brought in to start.

It's the only major news from head coach Andy Farrell's announcement, with Stuart McCloskey partnering Garry Ringrose as expected in the centre, and Bundee Aki named on the bench.

McCloskey started all three of Ireland's Autumn Nations Series games in November, with Aki having been suspended for the first two, and after the 30-year-old impressed in each of those games, Farrell has retained his midfield partnership with Ringrose.

Bealham comes into the front row alongside Leinster pair Dan Sheehan and Andrew Porter, while Tadhg Beirne and James Ryan continue their second row partnership.

As expected, Munster's Peter O'Mahony starts on the blindside flank, with Josh van der Flier picked at openside, and Caelan Doris packing down at No 8.

The backline shows no surprises, with Jamison Gibson-Park starting alongside Sexton in the half-backs, and the centre combination of McCloskey and Ringrose.

James Lowe starts on the left wing, having missed out on Ireland's November wins due to a calf injury. The 30-year-old has only played four games this season, and last featured for Leinster against Munster on St Stephen's Day, having had to return to his native New Zealand last month for personal reasons.

Mack Hansen continues on the right wing, while Hugo Keenan starts, as usual, at full-back.

Wales, meanwhile, have been forced into a change with Leigh Halfpenny ruled out of the Ireland game after suffering a back spasm.

The experienced Liam Williams replaces Halfpenny at full-back.

Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Stuart McCloskey, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Finlay Bealham; Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan; Peter O'Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Tom O'Toole, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Ross Byrne, Bundee Aki.

Listen to the RTÉ Rugby podcast on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Follow our live blog of Wales v Ireland (Saturday 2.15pm) on RTÉ.ie/Sport and the RTÉ News app, or listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1.

Watch live coverage of England v Scotland (Saturday 4.45pm) on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.