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O’Connell & D’Arcy return for Ireland

Ireland have made two changes to their starting XV ahead of the visit of Wales for their RBS Six Nations clash on Saturday afternoon.

The experienced duo of Gordon D’Arcy, and captain Paul O’Connell both return to the side after missing the first game through illness.

Paul O’Connell had to pull out of the Scotland game at the last minute with a chest infection and had to be replaced in the starting line up by Ulster’s Dan Tuohy, who now returns to the bench, while Gordon D’Arcy missed the game with a stomach problem, with Ulster’s Luke Marshall deputising at 12. Marshall now drops out of the 23.

It will be the 53rd time that D’Arcy and his centre partner, Brian O’Driscoll, have played together, further extending their worldwide record.

Leinster pair Eoin Reddan and Luke Fitzgerald were not considered for selection at scrum half and wing respectively, because of injury.

Joe Schmidt was measured in his assessment of the Welsh threat but did observe that they were a big side and that they would be keeping a close eye on the scrums:

“Man for man they are a very big side and we are going to have to be fairly smart about the way we play, there are one or two things we will try to implement on Saturday but we’ll have to assess post-match whether they have worked or not.”

“I know they’ve been outspoken about some scrum decisions and that’s one of the things they will look to strengthen.”

Schmidt also highlighted how little time Ireland have managed to spend preparing for this game, having had a six day turnaround after a highly physical game against Scotland, saying:

“We have a six-day turnaround so we trained for an hour on Tuesday, for an hour on Thursday, and we have the captain’s run on Friday.”

“The first three days after the Scotland match were largely used for recovery as the match was played at a reasonably high tempo, so we’ve just been keeping a lid on things training-wise.”

Wales named their squad earlier in the week, which you can see here, returning Sam Warburton to the starting line up in place of Justin Tipuric, with Andrew Coombs and Gethin Jenkins also coming in.

What do you think of the Irish XV? Are they good enough to beat Wales, and could they go on to challenge for the Championship? Let us know via @FifteenRugbyXV or via the comment box below.

Irealand v Wales, Saturday 8th February, Kick Off 14.30

Ireland XV:

15. Rob Kearney (Leinster) 14. Andrew Trimble (Ulster)  13. Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster)  12. Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster)  11. Dave Kearney (Leinster)  10. Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92)  9. Conor Murray (Munster);  8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)  7. Chris Henry (Ulster)  6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster)  5. Paul O’Connell (Munster)  4. Devin Toner (Leinster)  3. Mike Ross (Leinster)  2. Rory Best (Ulster)  1. Cian Healy (Leinster).

Replacements: 16. Sean Cronin (Leinster)  17. Jack McGrath (Leinster)  18. Martin Moore (Leinster)  19. Dan Tuohy (Ulster)  20. Tommy O’Donnell (Munster)  21. Isaac Boss (Leinster)  22. Paddy Jackson (Ulster)  23. Fergus McFadden (Leinster).

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