IRELAND have named an unchanged starting XV for Saturday’s RBS Six Nations clash with Italy at the Aviva Stadium.
Jonathan Sexton has made a full recovery from the thigh muscle injury sustained before the postponed match against France and starts at stand-off.
The fixture launches a gruelling schedule of four games in as many weeks as Ireland suffer the consequences of the aborted showdown at the Stade de France ten days ago. Once Italy have been negotiated, they must relocate to Paris on 4 March before preparing for a six-day turnaround to face Scotland.
They conclude their championship against England at Twickenham on 17 March.
“We were tempted to make changes to the team. We had a long discussion about it,” coach Declan Kidney said.
“But this team was good enough to play France so it’s good enough to play against Italy as well.”
IRELAND TEAM (to face Italy in RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Saturday, 1.30pm): R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), K Earls (Munster), G D’Arcy (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), P O’Connell (Munster, capt), S Ferris (Ulster), S O’Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster), T Court (Ulster), D Ryan (Munster), P O’Mahony (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O’Gara (Munster), F McFadden (Leinster).