Sexton skippers Ireland in Six Nations opener
Two-time British & Irish Lion Johnny Sexton will captain Ireland in their Six Nations opener against Scotland this weekend.
The fly-half, who toured Australia in 2013 and New Zealand in 2017, takes over the captaincy from fellow Lion Rory Best, who retired following Ireland’s exit from the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals last year.
He is joined in Andy Farrell’s first team as head coach by fellow Lions Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander and Conor Murray.
Scrum-half Murray has held off a strong challenge from John Cooney to take the No.9 jersey, while Leinster youngster Caelan Doris makes his debut at No.8.
Doris’ inclusion has nudged Stander to blindside flanker from his usual No.8 spot, while Healy is set for his 96th Ireland cap.
Lock Devin Toner returns to the Ireland side after his surprise omission from the World Cup and he is joined on the replacements bench by the equally-experienced Peter O’Mahony.
Ireland team to face Scotland:
15. Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 21 caps
14. Andrew Conway (Munster) 18 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster) 28 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht) 23 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster) 25 caps
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster) 88 caps Captain
9. Conor Murray (Munster) 78 caps
1. Cian Healy (Leinster) 95 caps
2. Rob Herring (Ulster) 8 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster) 41 caps
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster) 53 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster) 23 caps
6. CJ Stander (Munster) 38 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster) 23 caps
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster)*
16. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster)*
17. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster) 36 caps
18. Andrew Porter (Leinster) 23 caps
19. Devin Toner (Leinster) 67 caps
20. Peter O’Mahony (Munster) 64 caps
21. John Cooney (Ulster) 8 caps
22. Ross Byrne (Leinster) 3 cap
23. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster) 40 caps