Rugby-Lowe, Beirne win Irish selection battles for Six Nations opener

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DUBLIN (Reuters) - New Zealand-born winger James Lowe will make his Six Nations debut in Ireland's opener in Wales while Tadhg Beirne got the nod ahead of Iain Henderson at second row in an experienced side named by coach Andy Farrell on Friday.

Ireland are missing winger Jacob Stockdale and the impressive young backrow Caelan Doris for the trip to Cardiff but otherwise have a clean bill of health, with British & Irish Lions prop Tadhg Furlong returning to the bench after almost a year out through injury.

"It's a strong side, a strong 23 and one that's raring to go. We like what we've seen from all of the squad over the last 10 days," Farrell told a news conference.

Lowe, who scored a try on his debut when the sides last met in Ireland's 32-9 Autumn Nations Cup win in November, beat Leinster team mate Jordan Larmour to a spot on the wing with the increasingly assured Hugo Keenan starting at fullback.

Josh van der Flier takes the spot likely earmarked for Doris in the backrow beside the Munster pair of CJ Stander and Peter O'Mahony, with Leinster team mate Will Connors among the replacements.

Both Ireland and Wales had a disappointing championship last year. The Welsh followed 2019's Grand Slam with just one win while Farrell's men finished third but could not really get close to England or France.

"The slate's going to be wiped clean at the start of a competition and I suppose this is a huge game for both teams. We know it's going to be a war of attrition," Farrell said.

Ireland team to face Wales

15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster) 6 caps

14. Keith Earls (Munster) 88 caps

13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster) 30 caps

12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster) 47 caps

11. James Lowe (Leinster) 2 caps

10. Jonathan Sexton (C) (Leinster) 95 caps

9. Conor Murray (Munster) 87 caps

1. Cian Healy (Leinster) 104 caps

2. Rob Herring (Ulster) 16 caps

3. Andrew Porter (Leinster) 32 caps

4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 17 caps

5. James Ryan (Leinster) 32 caps

6. Peter O'Mahony (Munster) 73 caps

7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster) 28 caps

8. CJ Stander (Munster) 46 caps

Replacements

16. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster) 6 caps

17. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster) 39 caps

18. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster) 44 caps

19. Iain Henderson (Ulster) 58 caps

20. Will Connors (Leinster) 5 caps

21. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 5 caps

22. Billy Burns (Ulster) 3 caps

23. Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 24 caps

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)