Jack Crowley in line to shine for Ireland in Rome as team picked for Italy clash

Innishannon native has been selected among the replacement with Ross Byrne starting in place of the injured Johnny Sexton
Jack Crowley in line to shine for Ireland in Rome as team picked for Italy clash

Jack Crowley during an Ireland rugby squad training session this week. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

WEST Cork’s Jack Crowley is in line for his first Six Nations appearance after Andy Farrell named his team to face Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday afternoon.

The fly-half will act as Ross Byrne’s understudy, with the Leinster placekicker in for an injured Johnny Sexton.

Crowley earned his first two senior Irish caps last November during Autumn Internationals against Fiji and Australia at the Aviva Stadium.

He kicked nine points across the two games, with his biggest individual contribution being a conversion and a penalty during the 13-10 victory over the Wallabies.

Crowley barely put a foot wrong during the Australian fixture and he helped Ireland finish out the year by beating the three biggest countries from the southern hemisphere.

He now joins an Irish team that is pushing for its third consecutive win in this year’s Six Nations Championship.

Andy Farrell and his players began their campaign with a 34-10 victory over Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and they followed that up by defeating France 32-19 at the Aviva Stadium.

This has set up a run-in that could see Ireland win the Grand Slam and Triple Crown for the first time since 2018.

Crowley will be hoping for a strong showing as he looks to secure a seat on the plane to France for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Saturday will be another stepping stone towards that goal as a heavily fancied Irish team will lock horns with an Italian unit that narrowly lost to France at the Stadio Olimpico on the first game weekend of the tournament.

Ireland will be captained by James Ryan, who will put on the armband for the seventh time. He will be partnered in the second row with Iain Henderson, who makes his first international start since last year’s 26-5 victory over Scotland in Dublin.

The front row will consist of Ronan Kelleher, Andrew Porter, and Finlay Bealham. Jack Conan will start at number eight with Caelan Doris moving to blindside flank and Josh van der Flier will operate at openside.

Connacht’s Bundee Aki will also start his first Six Nations game of the year after being named on the replacements bench for the games against Wales and France.

Cork’s Peter O’Mahony will start from the replacements bench and he will sit alongside Dave Kilcoyne, Tom O’Toole, Ryan Baird, Conor Murray, and Stuart McCloskey.

IRELAND v Italy: 

Hugo Keenan; Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Ross Byrne, Craig Casey, Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Dan Sheehan; Dave Kilcoyne, Tom O’Toole, Ryan Baird, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Stuart McCloskey.

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