THE Munster duo of Keith Earls will play for Ireland for the first time in two and a half injury-ravaged years when Joe Schmidt’s side face Wales in the first of their World Cup warm-up games at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff on Saturday, 2.30pm.
Both Earls and Ryan will make their first Test appearances since the 22-15 6 Nations defeat in Italy in March 2013, as head coach Schmidt hands fringe players the chance to impress in Cardiff.
Limerickman Earls will start at outside centre this weekend, partnering Ulster’s Darren Cave in the Irish midfield. Second-row Ryan will be partnered in Ireland’s engine room by Iain Henderson.
Two more Munster players also feature in Ireland’s starting line-up, with Tommy O’Donnell named at number seven, while Felix Jones fill the full-back berth. The Munster duo of prop Dave Kilcoyne and winger Simon Zebo are included among the replacements.
After this weekend’s Cardiff clash, Ireland take on Scotland, Wales in a return clash in Dublin and finally England to complete their World Cup warm-up fixtures.
Boss Schmidt must submit his final 31-man World Cup squad on August 31, leaving three matches for players to force their way into the reckoning.
IRELAND v Wales: Felix Jones; Andrew Trimble, Keith Earls, Darren Cave, Fergus McFadden; Paddy Jackson, Eoin Reddan; Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross; Iain Henderson, Donnacha Ryan; Jordi Murphy, Tommy O’Donnell, Jamie Heaslip (capt). Replacements: Rory Best, Dave Kilcoyne, Michael Bent, Dan Tuohy, Chris Henry, Kieran Marmion, Ian Madigan, Simon Zebo.