Ireland team to play Scotland: Tadgh Furlong returns amid big changes for Six Nations clash

Ireland prop Tadhg Furlong will make his first appearance of this year’s Guinness Six Nations in Sunday’s crunch clash with Scotland.

Captain Johnny Sexton and centre Garry Ringrose, who sat out the round-three win in Italy, will also start at Murrayfield as part of six personnel changes after overcoming respective groin and calf injuries. Hooker Dan Sheehan, flanker Peter O’Mahony and scrum-half Conor Murray are the other men restored to Andy Farrell’s starting XV. Robbie Henshaw and Jamison Gibson-Park are in line for first Test outings since the autumn after being named on the bench.

The world’s top-ranked nation travel to Edinburgh top of the championship table thanks to successive bonus-point wins over Wales, France and Italy. Furlong’s return to fitness following a calf problem is a timely boost for head coach Farrell after deputy prop Finlay Bealham sustained a tournament-ending knee injury in the 34-20 victory in Rome. The British and Irish Lions tighthead has not played a competitive game since December 3.

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Scrum-half Gibson-Park was set to start Ireland’s round-one win in Wales before withdrawing before kick-off due to a hamstring injury. The New Zealand-born player has to remain patient as Murray has been preferred in the number nine role this weekend, with Craig Casey dropping out of the matchday squad after making his first championship start at Stadio Olimpico. Centre Henshaw has endured an injury-hit spell but is fit and available to provide midfield back-up for Bundee Aki and Ringrose following wrist surgery.

Tadhg Furlong is back in the Ireland team for Saturday's Six Nations match against Scotland.Tadhg Furlong is back in the Ireland team for Saturday's Six Nations match against Scotland.
Tadhg Furlong is back in the Ireland team for Saturday's Six Nations match against Scotland.

Returning pair Sheehan and Furlong will pack down alongside Leinster team-mate Andrew Porter in the front row, with locks James Ryan and Iain Henderson retaining their places. Caelan Doris reverts to number eight after lining up at blindside last time out, with O’Mahony back in the number six jersey and reigning world player of the year Josh van der Flier continuing at openside.

Murray and Sexton, who was injured in the 32-19 success over France on February 11, resume their half-back partnership. For the fourth successive fixture, Farrell has selected a back three of wings James Lowe and Mack Hansen and full-back Hugo Keenan. Gibson-Park and Henshaw are joined on the bench by Ronan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Tom O’Toole, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan and Ross Byrne.

Ireland team to face Scotland: Hugo Keenan (Leinster); Mack Hansen (Connacht), Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Bundee Aki (Connacht), James Lowe (Leinster); Johnny Sexton (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster); Andrew Porter (Leinster), Dan Sheehan (Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster); Iain Henderson (Ulster), James Ryan (Leinster); Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster), Caelan Doris (Leinster). Replacements: Ronan Kelleher (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Tom O’Toole (Ulster), Ryan Baird (Leinster), Jack Conan (Leinster), Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster), Ross Byrne (Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster).