Ireland name starting 15 for Wales test

Eddie O’Sullivan has made five changes to the Ireland team that beat Australia in November. This Irish starting 15 is similar to the “traditional” 15 that I guessed at last week but I got a fair few wrong:

  1. Horan
  2. Flannery R Best
  3. Hayes
  4. O’Connell
  5. O’Kelly O’Callaghan
  6. N Best S Easterby
  7. Wallace
  8. Leamy
  9. Stringer
  10. O’Gara
  11. Hickie
  12. D’Arcy
  13. O’Driscoll
  14. Trimble
  15. Murphy Dempsey

O’Kelly was forced out due to a knee injury, but I’m confused over the selection of Simon Easterby before Neil Best (ok, so it’s a tight call), and I really thought that Murphy had done enough during Leicester’s destruction of Munster’s home record last week to warrant a start – EOS’s play-at-home prejudice again perhaps?

Finally to hooker – hand on heart, Rory Best is just not as strong as Flannery, sorry Ulster boys! I wonder if it’s fitness related? If things are tight going into the last 20 expect that substitution for sure.

Here’s the team list in full:

: G Dempsey (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster), B O’Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D’Arcy (Leinster), D Hickie (Leinster), R O’Gara (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), M Horan (Munster), R Best (Ulster), J Hayes (Munster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), P O’Connell (Munster), S Easterby (Llanelli Scarlets), D Wallace (Munster), D Leamy (Munster).

Replacements: J Flannery (Munster), S Best (Ulster), N Best (Ulster), M O’Driscoll (Munster), I Boss (Ulster), P Wallace (Ulster), G Murphy (Leicester). Dempsey wins landmark (70th) cap