Keenan Delivers Blow To Ireland As Frawley Comes In For Wales Match

Keenan delivers blow to Ireland as Frawley comes in for Wales match

Hugo Keenan is the notable absentee from Andy Farrell's team as Ireland seek to make it three wins from three Six Nations matches against Wales at Lansdowne Road on Saturday

Dublin, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 22nd Feb, 2024) Hugo Keenan is the notable absentee from Andy Farrell's team as Ireland seek to make it three wins from three Six Nations matches against Wales at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Ciaran Frawley comes in at fullback for Keenan, who has failed to recover from a knee injury he suffered in the 36-0 victory over Italy a fortnight ago.

He will be sorely missed as the 27-year-old has been one of the outstanding players since Farrell took over after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Keenan had carried his sparkling World Cup form into the Six Nations but Frawley has deputised for him at fullback at Leinster, on eight occasions in the past two seasons.

Farrell said Keenan was making "great progress" and expected him to be fit for the away trip to England in a fortnight but he had no fears about 26-year-old Frawley's ability to step in.

"It was a big decision," Farrell told reporters on Thursday.

"However, 'Frawls' has trained with us a lot and started the training camp in Portugal at fullback so it is very natural for him to fill that position and deserves his chance.

"It will be a test of his temperament."

Frawley, who will win his third cap but first as a starter, is also useful as he can fill in for Jack Crowley at fly-half, should anything go awry with the 24-year-old Munster playmaker.

Farrell, seeking unprecedented back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams, has however been able to name 14 of the 15 that started the sublime 38-17 hammering of France in Marseille earlier this month.

Peter O'Mahony returns to captain the side, after missing the 36-0 victory over Italy with a calf injury.

It will be the 34-year-old backrow forward's 50th Six Nations appearance since his first match in the tournament back in 2012.

He returns as an openside flanker which results in Caelan Doris, who also deputised for him as skipper against Italy, moving back to his favoured No 8 spot.

- 'Going to be a scrap' -

Others who return after sitting out the Italy whitewash are prop Tadgh Furlong and lock Tadgh Beirne, as well as Bundee Aki.

Aki teams up alongside Robbie Henshaw in the centres, with Garry Ringrose still sidelined due to a shoulder problem.

Jamison Gibson-Park resumes his budding halfback partnership with Crowley with the latter's Munster teammate Conor Murray providing back-up as scrum-half from the bench.

Farrell has reverted to the 6-2 forwards backs split on the replacements bench he deployed against the French, with prop Oli Jager poised for his first cap.

Jager, 28, had been on Farrell's radar for a while to the extent they talked when the Munster prop was at Crusaders in New Zealand about his plans.

"He showed his ambition in coming back to Ireland and wanting to play for his country, as he was building a nice life for himself in New Zealand," said Farrell.

"We had earmarked him for a while.

"He is a big man, very low maintenance, he is a man's man, the tash says it all!" he added, grinning.

Ireland will be warm favourites not only due to their form thusfar but also because they have had the better of the Welsh in recent contests, winning six of the last seven meetings.

The Irish have established a formidable record at home, winning 17 successive Tests, whilst Wales have found Lansdowne Road a forbidding venue at which to play.

Although they won a 2015 Rugby World Cup warm-up match there, the Welsh have not come out on top in a Six Nations Test in Dublin since a 23-21 victory in 2012.

Farrell, though, said he viewed Wales in a different manner to the bookmakers and fans.

"It is always going to be a scrap," he said.

"It means a little bit more to them to play us, we are aware of that."

Team (15-1)

Ciaran Frawley; Calvin Nash, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Jack Crowley, Jamison Gibson-Park; Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Peter O'Mahony (capt); Tadhg Beirne, Joe McCarthy; Tadhg Furlong, Dan Sheehan, Andrew Porter

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Oli Jager, James Ryan, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Stuart McCloskey

Coach: Andy Farrell (ENG)