Jared Payne, Iain Henderson and Kieran Marmion have been included in Joe Schmidt’s starting XV for Saturday’s Six Nations finale against England.
The head coach held fire on naming his team until after this morning’s training session at Carton House and after reviewing his options he decided to replace Devin Toner with Iain Henderson as Rob Kearney and Conor Murray miss out through injury.
Kearney is understood to have suffered a knee injury in training on Tuesday, while Murray failed a fitness test this morning.
Keith Earls has passed his fitness test and slots into the back three alongside Payne and Zebo.
Murray loss is a major one given his influence over Ireland’s game-plan. Marmion will make his first Six Nations start, just his second start for Ireland, having played well against Wales after the Munster man was withdrawn last Friday night.
Sexton continues at No 10, while Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose link up in the centre.
Up front, the front-row of Jack McGrath, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong continue, while Toner drops the bench as Donnacha Ryan joins Henderson and the back-row of CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip continue.
Ireland team to face England – J Payne; K Earls, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, S Zebo; J Sexton, K Marmion; J McGrath, R Best (capt), T Furlong; D Ryan, I Henderson; CJ Stander, S O’Brien, J Heaslip. Reps: N Scannell, C Healy, J Ryan, D Toner, P O’Mahony, L McGrath, P Jackson, A Conway.