Six Nations 2017: Ireland recall Healy and Ryan for Italy as Sexton misses out

Six Nations 2017: Joe Schmidt demands 'focused' Ireland display in Rome
RBS Six Nations: Italy v Ireland
Venue: Stadio Olimpico Date: Saturday, 11 February Kick-off: 14:25 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and BBC Radio Ulster; text commentary on BBC Sport website

Donnacha Ryan and Cian Healy have been drafted into the Ireland pack for Saturday's Six Nations game against Italy in Rome.

Lock Ryan replaces Iain Henderson, who has a tight hamstring, with prop Healy taking over from Jack McGrath.

With Johnny Sexton's calf muscle still not deemed right, Ulster's Paddy Jackson remains at fly-half.

Ireland's line-out difficulties in the opening defeat by Scotland led to speculation Ryan, 33, would return.

In the event, Henderson's hamstring injury made coach Joe Schmidt's decision a little easier.

With Andrew Trimble still not being risked because of a groin strain, Ulster's Craig Gilroy replaces another of his provincial team-mates Tommy Bowe on the bench.

Sergio Parisse will start for Italy after shaking off a neck injury as coach Conor O'Shea makes four changes from the 33-7 defeat by Wales.

Angelo Esposito replaces Giulio Bisegni at wing with Simone Favaro, Dries Van Schalkwyk and Leonardo Ghiraldini taking over from Abraham Steyn, George Biagi and Ornel Gega in the pack.

Jack McGrath (left) and Cian Healy
Cian Healy replaces Jack McGrath in the Ireland front row

Healy's inclusion 'rotational'

Schmidt described Healy's inclusion in place of his Leinster colleague McGrath as "rotational".

"It was probably something we had planned to do anyway," said the Ireland coach.

"One plays 50 [minutes] and one 30 and vice verse. They both get 80 minutes over the first two weekends."

Schmidt revealed that Henderson had picked a "slight [hamstring] strain" on Tuesday but added that Ryan would "add a bit of value at line-out time" in Rome.

"Donnacha is a pretty good line-out operator. He is a real technician in that area and he's got a good work-rate. Those two things we feel we are going to need this weekend," Schmidt added.

Tommy Bowe in action at Murrayfield
Tommy Bowe came on as a second-half replacement in the Scotland defeat

Bowe 'unlucky' in Scotland game

The Irish coach added that wing Trimble was "so close" to being fit but that the management felt playing him too soon could lead to his groin injury flaring up again.

Bowe's concession of a late penalty after coming on as a replacement at Murrayfield helped ensure Scotland's victory and Schmidt believes that the wing will best regain sharpness by playing for Ulster against Edinburgh.

"Tommy was unlucky after coming on. He had to deal with an overlap that we should have done better to shut down further in and therefore he over-reached in the tackle," explained Schmidt.

"He just didn't quite get into the game so hopefully will get a bit of time for Ulster which better prepares him for the challenges that lie ahead.

"Craig Gilroy toured South Africa with us and has been working incredibly hard so we are keen to give him an opportunity."

Italy: E Padovani; A Esposito, T Benvenuti, L McLean, G Venditti; C Canna, E Gori; A Lovotti, L Ghiraldini, L Cittadini; M Fuser, D Van Schalkwyk; M Mbanda, S Favaro, S Parisse.

Replacements: O Gega, S Panico, D Chistolini, G Biagi, A Steyn, G Bronzini, T Allan, M Campagnaro

Ireland: R Kearney; K Earls, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, S Zebo; P Jackson, C Murray; C Healy, R Best (capt), T Furlong; D Ryan, D Toner; CJ Stander, S O'Brien, J Heaslip.

Replacements: N Scannell, J McGrath, J Ryan, U Dillane, J van der Flier, K Marmion, I Keatley, C Gilroy.


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