Johnny Sexton returns to Ireland line-up for Wales showdown

Johnny Sexton last played for Ireland in March
Johnny Sexton last played for Ireland in March
©PA

Ireland playmaker Johnny Sexton will make his first appearance at international level since March after he was named in the starting line-up for the return clash against Wales at Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

This will be Sexton's first appearance in the World Cup warm-up games as he has recovered from thumb and leg injuries and will take the fly-half role.

Rob Kearney has been slotted at fullback with Keith Earls and Jordan Larmour at wings while Bundee Aki will have a new centre partnership with Robbie Henshaw.

Carty will provide cover for Sexton from the bench and Conor Murray replaces Kieran Marmion at scrum-half. James Ryan and Jean Kleyn are at second row and CJ Stander and Josh van der Flier are positioned at flankers. There is also return for skipper Rory Best with Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong at props.

Ireland assistant coach Andy Farrell said the side is determined to give a perfect send-off to Best and head coach Joe Schmidt on what will be their final game at home.

"Raring to go, they have been held back for at least a week or two and can't wait to get going this weekend.

"We're after a performance we're proud of, with it being Rory Best and Joe Schmidt's last games at the Aviva. But we've also got to take the right mental attitude moving forward into Japan."

Ireland starting line-up: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 1 Cian Healy, 2 Rory Best (c), 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 James Ryan, 5 Jean Kleyn, 6 CJ Stander, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 Jack Conan

Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Garry Ringrose

 

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