MUNSTER’S Ian Keatley will start at out-half for Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations opener against Italy in Rome on Saturday.
Keatley gets the nod to fill the number 10 berth ahead of Leinster’s Ian Madigan who is listed among the replacements. Munster out-half Keatley will team up with his provincial colleague Conor Murray who starts at scrum-half after recovering from a neck injury.
Paul O’Connell captain’s the side on his 97th cap for his country and is partnered in the second row by Devin Toner.
The fit-again Sean O’Brien has been selected in the back-row alongside Munster captain Peter O’Mahony and Jordi Murphy. Robbie Henshaw will line out at inside-centre alongside Jared Payne who will fill the No 13 jersey.
The back three sees Rob Kearney flanked by Tommy Bowe and Munster winger Simon Zebo.
Munster’s Keith Earls, who recently returned to fitness after a knee injury, misses out on a place in the match-day squad for the Rome clash.
Ireland’s replacements include Sean Cronin, James Cronin, Martin Moore, Iain Henderson, Tommy O’Donnell, Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan and Felix Jones.
Saturday’s game at the Stadio Olimpico kicks-off at 2.30pm Irish time.
Ireland v Italy: Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo, Ian Keatley, Conor Murray, Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Mike Ross; Devin Toner, Paul O’Connell (Capt), Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien, Jordi Murphy. Replacements: Sean Cronin, James Cronin, Marty Moore, Iain Henderson, Tommy O’Donnell, Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan, Felix Jones.