Six Nations 2019: Henshaw named at full-back for Ireland against England

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Ireland-England game will not be boring - Schmidt
Six Nations 2019: Ireland v England
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday 2 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live and Radio Ulster, plus live text commentary & highlights on the BBC Sport website

Robbie Henshaw will switch from his usual midfield role to full-back for Ireland's opening Six Nations game against England in Dublin on Saturday.

Henshaw, 25, will be making his first appearance in an Ireland number 15 shirt since making his debut against the United States in June 2013.

Garry Ringrose and Bundee Aki resume their centre partnership.

Conor Murray returns at scrum-half after missing the autumn international series with a neck injury.

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Relive some magic moments from last year's Six Nations

The inclusion of Henshaw and Murray at the expense of Rob Kearney and the injured Kieran Marmion are the only two changes from the starting line-up which beat New Zealand 16-9 in Dublin in November.

Henshaw played at full-back during the early part of his career with Connacht but has earned 35 of his 36 international caps to date as a centre.

The Athlone native missed the autumn internationals with a hamstring injury but played for an hour for Leinster against Wasps in the Champions Cup two weeks ago.

Kearney trained with the squad on Tuesday, having missed the pre-Six Nations training camp in Portugal with a thigh problem, but has not done enough to earn a place in the side after playing just three games since the win over the All Blacks.

Jordan Larmour is named among the replacements so there is no room in the match-day 23 for Will Addison, Andrew Conway or Kearney.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said that Kearney's recent injury problems meant that he "ran out of time a little bit".

"Robbie trained last week and a bit in November at full-back," added the Ireland coach.

"It's one of those things that we've seen as an option for quite some time. So it's probably not as much of a surprise to Robbie or the team as it is to other people."

Johnny Sexton
World Player of the Year Sexton has not played since turning out for Leinster on 29 December

Johnny Sexton starts at fly-half after completing his recovery from knee tendon issues but has not played since 29 December.

Jacob Stockdale, who scored a record seven tries as Ireland secured a Grand Slam in winning last year's Six Nations, and Keith Earls, line out on the wings.

Cian Healy, captain Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong form the front row, with Devin Toner joining James Ryan in the second row and Van der Flier linking up with O'Mahony and Stander in the back row.

Van der Flier pips Sean O'Brien for the open-side flanker berth, with O'Brien, who has recovered from a broken arm suffered in the November victory over Argentina, named among the replacements.

Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne edges out Jack McGrath as cover for Healy, while Sean Cronin is preferred to Niall Scannell as reserve hooker.

Quinn Roux gets the nod over Ultan Dillane as replacement lock despite Dillane being chosen ahead of him in the original 38-man squad named by head coach Joe Schmidt.

Second rows Iain Henderson and Tadhg Beirne are both ruled out with injuries.

On the bench Ulster's John Cooney is likely to make his Six Nations debut as he covers Murray in the absence of Marmion and Luke McGrath, who is also injured.

Ireland: Henshaw; Earls, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best (capt), Furlong; Toner, James Ryan; O'Mahony, van der Flier, Stander.

Replacements: Cronin, Kilcoyne, Porter, Roux, O'Brien, Cooney, Carbery, Larmour.

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