Chris Henry will make his first appearance for Ireland since suffering a mini-stroke in November when he features in Thursday’s clash with the Barbarians.
The 30-year-old flanker returned to Ulster action in March, and now has the chance to stake his World Cup claim against the Barbarians at Thomond Park.
Ireland captain's run including players Jamie Heaslip, left, and Craig Gilroy. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/SPORTSFILE
Henry joins captain Jamie Heaslip in a strong Ireland side for the non-cap international, with Leinster’s uncapped 24-year-old centre Colm O’Shea making his senior bow.
Ireland are without their Munster contingent – Paul O’Connell and company are gearing up for Saturday’s Guinness PRO12 final against Glasgow at Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium.
Dan Tuohy partners Devin Toner in the lock cordon in talisman O’Connell’s absence, while Ian Madigan starts at fly-half, preferred to Ulster’s Paddy Jackson.
Leinster prop Tadhg Furlong joins O’Shea as the second uncapped player in the starting line-up, with three more on the bench.
Ulster flanker Henry underwent a procedure to repair a defect in his heart wall in November, after being taken ill in the build-up to Ireland’s autumn international Test clash with South Africa.
Henry suffered “a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain” on the morning of Ireland’s Springboks clash on November 8.
The 16-cap back-rower has made a full recovery, however, returning to top form in the latter half of Ulster’s campaign.
The Barbarians have made a change to the matchday squad on duty against Ireland tomorrow night.
Former Scotland lock Nathan Hines (Sale Sharks) comes onto the bench in place of George Whitelock (Panasonic Wild Knights).
Ireland XV to face Barbarians: R Kearney, D Kearney, C O’Shea (all Leinster), L Marshall, C Gilroy (both Ulster), I Madigan, E Reddan, J McGrath, R Strauss, T Furlong, D Toner (all Leinster), D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry (all Ulster), J Heaslip (Leinster, capt).
Replacements: R Herring (Ulster), M Bent, M Ross, B Marshall, J Murphy, L McGrath (all Leinster), P Jackson (Ulster), C Kelleher (Leinster).
Barbarians team: Zane Kirchner (Leinster & South Africa), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues & Wales), Joe Rokocoko (Bayonne & New Zealand), Wynand Olivier (Montpellier & South Africa), David Smith (Toulon), James Gopperth (Leinster), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster & South Africa), Roberto Tejerizo (Tucuman & Argentina), Deon Fourie (Lyon), Adam Jones (Cardiff Blues & Wales), Rodrigo Capo Ortega (Castres & Uruguay), Konstantin Mikautadze (Toulon & Georgia), Shane Jennings (Leinster & Ireland, Captain), Gerhard Vosloo (Toulon), Ryu Koliniasi Holani (Panasonic Wild Knights & Japan)
Replacements: David Ward (Harlequins), Saimone Taumoepeau (Castres & New Zealand), Matias Diaz (Pampas & Argentina), Nathan Hines (Sale Sharks & Scotland), George Smith (Lyon & Australia), Tomas Cubelli (Belgrano Ath & Argentina), Tusi Pisi (Suntory Sungoliath & Samoa), Gio Aplon (Grenoble & South Africa)