Fitzgerald named at centre as Ireland field strong side for Wales clash

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Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has named a strong side to start against Wales in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, with many stalwarts making their first appearances in this World Cup warm-up series.

Rob Kearney starts at full-back with Dave Kearney alongside him at 14 and Keith Earls on the opposite wing.

In another sign of the versatility Schmidt wants, from his backs in particular, Luke Fitzgerald starts at outside centre on Saturday, partnered with Robbie Henshaw.

Jonny Sexton takes up the kicking at 10, with Conor Murray beside him in the half-backs.

Mike Ross finally gets a break with Nathan White getting his first start at tighthead after coming off the bench against Scotland. Jack McGrath and Richardt Strauss make up the front-row.

Paul O’Connell makes his final start in an Ireland jersey on home soil, with Iain Henderson joining him in the second row.

Jamie Heaslip is named No. 8, with Peter O’Mahony and Jordi Murphy making up the back row.

Wales also named a strong side for the match, with George North set to make his first appearance for five months.

Ireland team: 15. Rob Kearney, 14. Dave Kearney, 13. Luke Fitzgerald, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Keith Earls, 10. Jonny Sexton, 9. Conor Murray; 1. Jack McGrath, 2. Richardt Strauss, 3. Nathan White, 4. Iain Henderson, 5. Paul O’Connell – capt., 6. Peter O’Mahony, 7. Jordi Murphy, 8. Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne, Tadhg Furlong, Donnacha Ryan, Sean O’Brien, Eoin Reddan, Paddy Jackson, Felix Jones. head sports reporter Shaun Cronin and Irish Examiner rugby correspondant Simon Lewis discuss the team selection.

Wales team: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb; 1 Gethin Jenkins, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Bradley Davies, 5 Alun Wyn Jones – capt., 6 Dan Lydiate, 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Paul James, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 James King, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Hallam Amos.

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