Six Nations 2016: Jared Payne and Simon Zebo named in Ireland team to face Italy

Six Nations 2016: Ireland coach Joe Schmidt recalls fit-again Jared Payne
Six Nations: Ireland v Italy
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 12 March Kick-off: 13:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on ITV, commentary on BBC Radio Ulster & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Jared Payne and Simon Zebo will start for Ireland in Saturday's Six Nations match against Italy after Rob Kearney was ruled out by injury.

Kearney's hamstring injury means that Zebo will start at full-back.

Payne has recovered from a hamstring injury sustained against France which kept him out of the defeat by England.

The New Zealand native, 30, resumes his centre pairing with Robbie Henshaw as Stuart McCloskey drops out of the squad despite impressing on his debut.

Ulster youngster McCloskey misses out with Fergus McFadden's ability to cover centre and wing earning him a place on the bench.

Otherwise, the team is unchanged from the side which started at Twickenham.

Italy make four changes

Italy will be without injured scrum-half Edoardo Gori
Scrum-half Edoardo Gori is ruled out for Italy

Italy's four changes from 36-20 defeat by Scotland include a new half-back pairing in Zebre duo Guglielmo Palazzani and Edoardo Padovani.

Scrum-half Palazzani has 18 caps but will be making his first Six Nations start as he replaces injured Edoardo Gori.

Padovani displaces Kelly Haimona at fly-half while the other changes see hooker Davide Giazzon and lock George Biagi taking over from injured pair Leonardo Ghiraldini and Josh Furno.

Two-time defending Six Nations champions Ireland are still chasing their first win of the campaign after an opening draw with Wales was followed by defeats against France and England.

Schmidt rejects conservative charge

Head coach Joe Schmidt insisted that he had not been tempted to pick Payne at full-back, where he has played most of his rugby at Ulster.

"We haven't trained with Jared at 15 so it would be a big step for us to suddenly change that," said the Ireland coach.

"What we lack with Jared Payne not in the midfield has been particularly evident for us."

Schmidt insisted that his selection policy was "not overly conservative" after he did hand debuts to McCloskey and Leinster youngster Josh van der Flier at Twickenham and also introduced another new cap Ultan Dillane.

"We really experimented in the last game," said Schmidt.

"To put two guys into their Test match debuts at Twickenham away against a very settled and strong English side, and to have another make his debut off the bench."

Date (All times GMT)ProgrammeCoverage
Sat, 12 Mar (13:30 KO)Ireland v ItalyITV and BBC Radio
Sat, 12 Mar (16:00 KO)England v WalesITV and BBC Radio 5 live
Sun, 13 Mar, 14:00 (15:00 KO)Scotland v FranceBBC One and BBC Radio

Conor Murray remains at scrum-half despite needing eight stitches around his left eye after being caught by the boot of England's Mike Brown at Twickenham.

Schmidt has stuck with Devin Toner and Donnacha Ryan in the second row, despite the claims of Connacht's Ultan Dillane who gave a sparkling cameo performance off the bench against England.

In the back row, Josh van der Flier will make his home debut after starting his first international at Twickenham.

With Zebo moving up from the replacements, McFadden is named on a bench which includes two other changes with Sean Cronin and Kieran Marmion replacing Richardt Strauss and Eoin Reddan.

Ian Madigan remains in the replacements despite speculation that Ulster's Paddy Jackson might be promoted to the reserve fly-half berth.

Ireland have won 21 of their 25 test meetings against Italy and the Azzurri's only win in Dublin was their 37-29 victory at the old Lansdowne Road in January 1997.

Ireland: Simon Zebo; Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Keith Earls; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best (capt), Mike Ross; Donnacha Ryan, Devin Toner; CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Finlay Bealham, Nathan White, Ultan Dillane, Rhys Ruddock, Kieran Marmion, Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden.

Italy: David Odiete; Leonardo Sarto, Michele Campagnaro, Gonzalo Garcia, Mattia Bellini; Edoardo Padovani, Guglielmo Palazzani; Andrea Lovotti, Davide Giazzon, Lorenzo Cittadini; George Biagi, Marco Fuser; Francesco Minton, Alessandro Zanni, Sergio Parisse (capt).

Replacements: Oliviero Fabiani, Matteo Zanusso, Dario Chistolini, Quintin Geldenhuys, Abraham Steyn, Alberto Lucchese, Kelly Haimona, Luke McLean

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