Ciaran Frawley to make first Ireland start in place of injured Hugo Keenan

By Sports Desk February 22, 2024

Ciaran Frawley will make his first Test start in Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Wales after being selected in place of injured full-back Hugo Keenan.

The versatile 26-year-old won his two previous caps as a replacement, including playing the final four minutes of the championship curtain-raiser away to France.

Keenan has been virtually ever-present in his country’s number 15 jersey during the past three years but will miss Saturday’s match in Dublin due to a knee injury suffered in the round-two victory over Italy.

Head coach Andy Farrell, who has included uncapped Munster prop Oli Jager among the replacements, has made seven personnel changes to his starting XV from the 36-0 win over the Azzurri Italy on February 11.

Captain Peter O’Mahony, prop Tadhg Furlong and centre Bundee Aki return following injuries, while lock Tadhg Beirne, scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park and flanker Josh Van Der Flier are also recalled.

Second-row James Ryan, flanker Ryan Baird, number eight Jack Conan and centre Stuart McCloskey drop to a bench containing a six-two split of forwards and backs.

Prop Finlay Bealham and scrum-half Craig Casey have been left out of the matchday 23 after starting against Italy.

Lock Iain Henderson, who suffered a foot injury playing for Ulster last weekend, is not involved, while centre Garry Ringrose remains absent after missing the opening two rounds with a shoulder issue.

Frawley has been battling Jack Crowley and Harry Byrne for action at fly-half but Farrell has limited back-up options at full-back due to Jimmy O’Brien and Mack Hansen being ruled out of the entire tournament.

The full debutant has played a total of just 44 minutes of international rugby, during cameos in last summer’s World Cup warm-up win over Italy and the 38-17 victory over Les Bleus at the start of the month.

Crowley continues in the number 10 role, partnering Gibson-Park, with Aki and Robbie Henshaw in midfield and Calvin Nash and James Lowe retained on the wings.

In the front row, returning tighthead Furlong will pack down alongside Leinster team-mates Andrew Porter and Dan Sheehan, ahead of the second row pairing of Joe McCarthy and Beirne.

Caelan Doris, who stood in as skipper last time out, reverts from openside flanker to number eight. Van der Flier returns to the number seven role, while O’Mahony is back in at blindside flanker.

Hooker Ronan Kelleher, prop Cian Healy and scrum-half Conor Murray complete the bench.

Ireland are seeking a third successive win in this year’s championship – and an 18th in a row at home – after launching their title defence with back-to-back bonus-point victories over France and Italy.

Opponents Wales began with narrow defeats to Scotland and England and have not won a Six Nations fixture in Dublin since 2012.

Related items

  • Mo Hunt wants Grand Slam-chasing England to put on a show at Twickenham Mo Hunt wants Grand Slam-chasing England to put on a show at Twickenham

    Mo Hunt insists England are ready to thrill a bumper audience at Twickenham when they face Ireland in the Guinness Women’s Six Nations on Saturday.

    A crowd of up to 50,000 is expected to watch the Red Roses continue their Grand Slam quest in their first match at the venue since last year’s rollercoaster victory over France that clinched the title.

    England have averaged 47 points a game in their three wins to date but Hunt wants the attack that has been enhanced under head coach John Mitchell to take another step forward.

    “We just want it to click for us. There are 47,000 in Twickenham from what I have been told and we want to put on a show,” said the Gloucester-Hartpury scrum-half, who is enjoying a Test resurgence since missing out on the 2022 World Cup.

    “The best is yet to come for us, I truly believe that. We’ve spoken about the discipline and the penalties, but also our one-team attack – every time we train it is starting to look better and better.

    “I just want it to click so you can all see what we are seeing in training because we’ve not got there yet.

    “I’m really enjoying the way we are trying to play, how positive everything is and the way we are trying to go after defences. It’s the way I want to play rugby.”

    England have a 100 per cent record in the tournament despite seeing Sarah Beckett and Amy Cokayne sent off against Italy and Scotland, respectively.

    The red cards have fed into the ‘game is unfair’ mantra adopted under Mitchell as the Kiwi looks to turn the game’s dominant force into world champions by preparing them for moments when circumstances have conspired against them.

    Lydia Thompson’s dismissal for a high tackle on Portia Woodman that contributed to England’s defeat by New Zealand in the 2022 World Cup final has given Mitchell’s message powerful affirmation.

    “When Mitch put a picture up of Lyds and said ‘the game isn’t fair’, it hit so many of us in our hearts because Lyds is the most unbelievable human and obviously that moment was tough for everyone,” Hunt said.

    “I’m not saying it was the right or wrong decision, but sometimes the game is unfair and when you go down to 14 in a final you have to fight your way out of that.

    “If I’m in the thick of these decisions all the time and every time I don’t quite agree with something, that sentence genuinely rings true. I think, ‘game is unfair – move on’.”

  • John Mitchell wants England to ‘continue to play on the edge’ despite red cards John Mitchell wants England to ‘continue to play on the edge’ despite red cards

    John Mitchell has instructed England to continue playing on the edge despite the disciplinary issues that have marred their Guinness Women’s Six Nations.

    The Red Roses have been shown two red cards in three matches, with number eight Sarah Beckett dismissed in the opener against Italy and hooker Amy Cokayne sent off against Scotland.

    Both opponents were crushed despite England being reduced to 14 players as they continue their march to a sixth successive Championship title with the visit of Ireland to Twickenham on Saturday.

    While Mitchell wants technique to be refined where needed, he views his team’s physicality as an important weapon.

    “I want us to continue to play on the edge, but I also want us to be aware around how we need to change our behaviour,” the Red Roses head coach said.

    “In Amy’s incident, she needs to get her head under the ball. Obviously that’s something you put the ownership on the individual to change.

    “We probably let the pressure off on Scotland. There were a number of times when we had the foot on their throats. We’d rather that turn into attack for us.

    “There’s some good things we’ve learned from it, but we’re certainly not going to go away from being on the edge. It’s what drives us. It’s what the game’s all about and we want to defence into points.”

    Beckett received a three-match ban for a dangerous clearout while Cokayne’s two yellow cards for a dangerous clearout and dangerous tackle resulted in a one-game suspension.

    Both players will be available for the probable Grand Slam decider against France on Saturday week.

    England had rehearsed for the eventuality of losing their number eight and hooker in the build up to each game after defence coach Sarah Hunter had presented them as scenarios in training.

    “We’ve told Sarah Hunter not to give us any more scenarios!” captain Marlie Packer joked.

    “So she might have said at the beginning of the Six Nations ‘eight go off the pitch’. That might have happened.

    “And then last week ‘hooker you’ve got a card, go off’. And that might have happened in a game. So we’ve kind of told Sarah not to do that any more!”

    Almost 50,000 are expected at Twickenham on Saturday and in anticipation of the atmosphere, England have adapted training at their Surrey base.

    “Early on in the week, when we do more low-key training in the barn inside, we can put crowd noise in. I personally loved it,” he said.

    “It paints a different picture for us. It’s been a new thing that we’ve brought in this week which has raised our game. Hopefully we can put it out on the pitch on Saturday.”

    Packer has been restored at openside for the visit of Ireland, forcing Zoe Aldcroft to move from back row to lock, while Lark Atkin-Davies replaces the suspended Cokayne at hooker.

  • Wales and Lions hooker Ken Owens retires aged 37 due to injury Wales and Lions hooker Ken Owens retires aged 37 due to injury

    Former Wales captain Ken Owens has announced his retirement from the game after failing to recover from a back problem.

    The 37-year-old hooker, who played five Tests for the British and Irish Lions, has been sidelined for almost a year because of the injury, last playing for the Scarlets in April 2023.

    Owens won two Grand Slams and two further Six Nations titles during his 91 caps for Wales, whom he led during last year’s Six Nations.

    “Reluctantly, I am announcing my retirement from rugby. Not playing has been challenging, but the time is right to follow medical advice and hang up my boots,” he said.

    “Had I written the script there would have been one more game for Wales, for the Scarlets and ultimately Carmarthen Athletic. A chance to sign off and thank everyone involved.

    “It was not to be. It might not be the dream ending, but my career has been more than I could have dreamt of.

    “Whilst part of me wishes I could have done more, I am well aware that if you had told me as a kid I would be fortunate enough to experience what I have, to have worked with and played with the people I have and taken the pleasure I have from this amazing game, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.