Ireland captain Johnny Sexton will make his first competitive appearance in almost six months after being selected to start Saturday’s Rugby World Cup clash with Romania.
Fly-half Sexton missed his country’s three warm-up matches through suspension, having not played since injuring a groin as Ireland clinched the Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam on March 18.
The 38-year-old, who will retire after the tournament, will partner Leinster team-mate Jamison Gibson-Park on his long-awaited comeback in Bordeaux.
Our line up for Saturday's Rugby World Cup opener in Bordeaux! #TeamOfUs
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Ulster hooker Rob Herring will fill the void left by Dan Sheehan’s foot injury, with Ronan Kelleher, who sat out last month’s wins over Italy, England and Samoa amid a hamstring issue, on the bench.
Lock Joe McCarthy, the least experienced international in Ireland’s 33-man group, will make only his second Test start, alongside vice-captain James Ryan.
Wing Mack Hansen and world player of the year Josh van der Flier, who is on the bench, are notable absentees from the line-up.
Keith Earls has been selected ahead of Hansen on the right wing, with Van der Flier’s non-selection resulting in Peter O’Mahony lining up at openside flanker and Tadhg Beirne switching from the second row to blindside.