Jared Payne returns to the Ireland side for Italy clash

Joe Schmidt has made two changes to the team that were defeated by England

BY Daniel Kelly 13:45 Thursday 10 March 2016, 13:45 10 Mar 2016

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Ulster's Jared Payne returns to the Ireland team to face Italy after missing the defeat in Twickenham due to injury.

Joe Schmidt's team sees two changes, both coming in the backs, to the team that lost 21-10 to England last month. Payne replaces Ulster team-mate Stuart McCloskey who drops out of the matchday squad, while Simon Zebo replaces the injured Rob Kearney at full-back.

Andrew Trimble and Keith Earls start on the wings, while Payne joins Rob Henshaw in the centre. Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray continue their partnership at half-back.

In the front row, captain Rory Best is joined by the Leinster duo of Jack McGrath and Mike Ross. Devin Toner and Donnacha Ryan form the second row, while Josh van der Flier will start at home for the first time. He joins CJ Stander and Jamie Heaslip in the back row.

On the bench, Connacht scrum-half Kieran Marmion could make his Six Nations debut. He was an unused substitute in the draw against Wales.

Ireland are looking for their first Six Nations win of the year. Since Italy joined the tournament in 2000, Ireland have won 15 out of 16 ties and are unbeaten in Dublin.

Ireland team to face Italy:

(15-9): Simon Zebo, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Keith Earls, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray.

(1-8): Jack McGrath, Rory Best (capt), Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements (16-23): Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Nathan White, Ultan Dillane, Rhys Ruddock, Kieran Marmion, Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden.


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