Cian Healy starts against Romania but still no Robbie Henshaw

Cian Healy starts against Romania but still no Robbie Henshaw

Head coach Joe Schmidt has made a raft of changes to Ireland’s starting XV for this weekend’s game, and rugby fans will be delighted to see Cian Healy at loosehead prop.

Healy played the final 20 minutes of last week’s win against Canada, but this will be his first start in an Ireland jersey since his return to fitness following neck surgery.

The most notable absence is Robbie Henshaw, who missed the Canada game as a precaution because of a ‘tight’ hamstring. Schmidt said at the time he was almost certain the centre would be fit for this week’s game, but he doesn’t feature at all in the match-day squad.

With Italy and France to play in the weeks ahead, Schmidt is resting many key players for the match against Romania on Sunday, and giving others who missed out last week a run-out.

Simon Zebo starts at fullback, with Tommy Bowe and Keith Earls on the wings. Darren Cave comes in at inside centre in place of Henshaw, alongside Jared Payne who retains his starting place.

There is a complete change in the half-backs. Ian Madigan starts at 10, with Eoin Reddan in at scrum-half in place of Conor Murray, who may feature from the bench. Jonny Sexton is not part of this week’s squad.

Healy is joined in the front-row by Richardt Strauss and Nathan White, while Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner come into the second row. Paul O’Connell is named among the replacements.

Jamie Heaslip is at 8 once again, with Jordi Murphy and Chris Henry at openside and blindside respectively.

Ireland team in full: 15. Simon Zebo, 14. Tommy Bowe, 13. Jared Payne, 12. Darren Cave, 11. Keith Earls, 10. Ian Madigan, 9. Eoin Reddan; 1. Cian Healy, 2. Richardt Strauss, 3. Nathan White, 4. Donnacha Ryan, 5. Devin Toner, 6. Jordi Murphy, 7. Chris Henry, 8. Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: 16. Sean Cronin, 17. Jack McGrath, 18. Tadhg Furlong, 19. Paul O’Connell, 20. Sean O’Brien, 21. Conor Murray, 22. Paddy Jackson, 23. Rob Kearney.

Shaun Cronin, head sports reporter of breakingnews.ie speaking to the Irish Examiner's rugby correspondent Simon Lewis on Ireland's RWC match against Romania this weekend. Video by Dan Linehan.

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