Caelan Doris captains Ireland after surprising positional switch as Andy Farrell makes several changes for Italy Test –

Back-row Caelan Doris will lead Ireland in the absence of Peter O’Mahony when they take on Italy in the Six Nations on Sunday.

The 25-year-old took on the responsibility when O’Mahony was replaced in their tournament opener against France and now does the job from the start.

Interestingly, Doris will captain the side from openside flanker against Italy after head coach Andy Farrell decided to move him from his usual spot at number eight.

The Leinster star has featured at blindside regularly but he has rarely shifted to number seven.

Back-row reshuffle

His selection at openside allows Farrell to hand a Six Nations opportunity to Ryan Baird at six following an impressive provincial season, and to bring Jack Conan in at number eight.

In front of them in the Ireland second-row, there is a return to the starting line-up for James Ryan and he partners rising star Joe McCarthy.

Ryan comes in for Tadhg Beirne, who drops out of the squad for this clash, while in the front-row Tadhg Furlong is also omitted.

That means the reliable Finlay Bealham gets a chance at tighthead prop, alongside hooker Dan Sheehan and loosehead Andrew Porter.

Meanwhile, behind the scrum, Craig Casey takes over from Jamison Gibson-Park and forms an all-Munster half-back pairing with Jack Crowley.

Finally, there is just one more alteration to the backline with Stuart McCloskey in at centre with Bundee Aki also getting a rest.

He combines with Robbie Henshaw in the midfield, with an unchanged back three of James Lowe, Calvin Nash and Hugo Keenan completing the XV.

On the bench, Farrell has reverted back to a 5-3 split as Ronan Kelleher, Jeremy Loughman, Tom O’Toole, Iain Henderson and Josh van der Flier cover the forwards, while Gibson-Park, Harry Byrne and Jordan Larmour are the back replacements.

Ireland’s team to face Italy

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Caelan Doris (c), 6 Ryan Baird, 5 James Ryan, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Harry Byrne, 23 Jordan Larmour

Date: Sunday, February 11
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Luc Ramos (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

READ MORE: Nick Easter’s Six Nations predictions: One away win on the cards

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Ellis Wilder

Hey there! My name is Ellis Wilder, and I'm a student at the University of Calgary. When I'm not hitting the books, you can usually find me writing articles for sports and travel blogs. I've always had a passion for exploring new places and experiencing different cultures, so I love sharing my travel stories with others. Whether I'm hiking in the Rocky Mountains or exploring a new city, I always try to capture the essence of the places I visit in my writing. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy reading my articles as much as I enjoy writing them!

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