Porter and Farrell set for first Six Nations starts

The unenviable task of replacing Furlong falls to Andrew Porter, a former loose-head prop with four caps to his name.

For the record he won 33 of 57 games with Australia including leading them to the 2003 World Cup final which they lost to England, 34 of 48 at Japan, including the Cherry Blossoms' World Cup win over the Springboks and 24 in 25 matches with England, Jones sole defeat coming against Schmidt's Ireland at the Aviva Stadium past year.

Porter will come in for his first Six Nations start after Furlong's participation in training earlier this week was hampered by injury.

MUNSTER centre Chris Farrell is included in Ireland's starting line-up for Saturday's big NatWest 6 Nations Championship game with Wales at the Aviva Stadium, 2.15pm.

"We're short on experience, and we're up against a team welcoming back three Lions while we see three disappear", Schmidt says. "So yes that's not ideal, but at the same time, if you want to learn, what better environment than a really white-hot atmosphere in the Aviva on Saturday".

"There are always going to be scenarios that come up that you'd like to think you'd be prepared for, but you don't know how you're going to cope".

In an Irish context O'Sullivan leads the way from his time as national coach (2001-2008), 23 Test matches more than 2009 Grand Slam winning coach Kidney, who on Saturday will be joined by Schmidt on 53 Tests after the game against Wales.

At risk is not only Ireland's unbeaten Six Nations run, but also a terrific home record. But the progress just stalled a little bit.

"Round three represents the first real test of the depth of the Irish squad".

England began the championship as favourites but now stand only a 40 per cent chance of retaining their title, with Ireland boasting a 43 per cent probability of finishing top, says insurers QBE. Wales handed the eventual 2015 champion its only defeat, opened 2016 with a draw in Dublin, and won again in Cardiff previous year.

Asked if he thought Ireland were the strongest team in the tournament, Gatland added: "No. England are a tough outfit".

"England are a tough outfit".

"We have got to put Conor and his kicking game under pressure". "You've got to keep your discipline against Ireland. They play through lots of phases, but we've conceded the least points in the competition so far".

IRELAND: Kearney, Earls, Farrell, Aki, Stockdale, Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best, Porter, James Ryan, Toner, O'Mahony, Leavy, Stander.

  • Angelo Rivera