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02nd Feb 2023

Ireland team to play Wales: Andy Farrell’s XV, the big calls and bold cuts

Patrick McCarry

Ireland are looking to win their first Six Nations title since 2018.

At Thursday lunchtime, Andy Farrell will show his hand and name his first Ireland team on this World Cup year.

Ireland enter 2023 as World No.1 and with home fixtures against France and England. They are openly declaring their intentions to go for a Grand Slam, whereas Irish sides in the past would play it coy.

The biggest issue for Ireland – aside from trying to win away at the notoriously bellicose Principality Stadium – is the lack of game-time for some key players. Bundee Aki has not played for Connacht since December 23, Tadhg Furlong since December 3, James Lowe since December 26 and Johnny Sexton since January 1.

Farrell and his coaching staff are speaking positively about having his senior players primed to go, but there are some outstanding candidates on hand if his front-liners are not ready to start on Saturday.

Ireland team

To our mind, Bundee Aki is most likely to get a bench role, as he performed so effectively in the win over Australia. Jamie Osborne will be in the conversations but Stuart McCloskey has done enough to merit starts against Wales and France.

James Lowe is being widely predicted to get the 11 jersey. Johnny Sexton and Tadhg Furlong are our dice rolls, as it helps us sleep better at night seeing them in any Irish XV.

Here (in our live feed, below) is all you need to know about the Ireland team announcement and their first Test match of 2023. LIVE FEED HERE:


15. Hugo Keenan
14. Mack Hansen
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. James Lowe
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Andrew Porter
2. Dan Sheehan
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Caelan Doris

Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan, Craig Casey, Jack Crowley, Bundee Aki.

On House of Rugby, former Munster and Ireland Sevens player Greg O’Shea laid out a case for why Andy Farrell and his men should be confident going into their opening match

“I’ve heard people tipping Wales to win it,” he said. “I was actually offended. I was like, ‘What?’

As fellow pundits Jason Hennessy and Lindsay Peat backed up their worried words, a smiling O’Shea assured them, “Lads, Ireland are so good though!”

“It’s Warren Gatland,” argued Hennessy. “With Warren Gatland coming back in for his first game, in the Principality Stadium, do not expect a win. There’s every chance they can win it. As Ireland are – and I’m hopeful of a Six Nations win or a grand slam – that could be a slippery first game.”

*Wales vs. Ireland takes place on Saturday, February 4th with Virgin Media providing free-to-air coverage, and kick-off at 2:15pm.


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