Schmidt sticks with same XV for Wales clash

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt at Ireland training today in Carton House

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt at Ireland training today in Carton House

Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt has made no changes to his starting side for Friday’s might’s crucial Six Nations clash with Wales.

In fact the only change to the match day squad sees Tommy Bowe step in for the injured Andrew Trimble.

Bowe (33) came off the bench against Scotland but struggled to make an impact and afterwards former Ireland winger Shane Horgan described the decision to select the 68-times capped star a “nostalgia call”.

The second highest try-scorer in Irish history, Bowe has endured a terrible run of injuries in recent seasons. Apart from a pair of tries against Romania at the 2015 World Cup, his last try for Ireland was against Australia in November 2014.

He leap-frogs Craig Gilroy – scorer of a hat-trick against Italy – and Andrew Conway who was the 24th man, while Jared Payne’s bruising keeps him out of the matchday 23.

Otherwise, it’s as you were for Ireland who retain 22 players from the squad that beat France two weeks ago.

Rob Kearney has overcome his groin strain to start at full-back, with Keith Earls and Simon Zebo on the wings.

Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw continue in the centre, with Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray partnering up at out-half.

Up front, Schmidt has resisted the temptation to rotate Jack McGrath and Cian Healy, with Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong continuing alongside McGrath in the front-row, with Devin Toner and Donnacha Ryan together in the engine room.

Once again, Peter O’Mahony remains in reserve as the dynamic trio of CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip retain their places in the back-row.

Meanwhile, Wales have also named an unchanged team for Friday night's clash at the Millennium Stadium. 

Ireland team to face Wales: R Kearney; K Earls, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, S Zebo; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best (capt), T Furlong; D Ryan, D Toner; CJ Stander, S O’Brien, J Heaslip. Reps: N Scannell, C Healy, J Ryan, I Henderson, P O’Mahony, K Marmion, P Jackson, T Bowe.

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