6N: Sexton and Ryan back for Ireland vs Italy in Rome
ROME (AP) — Captain Jonathan Sexton and lock James Ryan are back from head injuries for Ireland among seven changes to the lineup facing Italy in the Six Nations on Saturday.
However, scrumhalf Conor Murray was not recovered from a hamstring issue.
Munster scrumhalf Craig Casey, an unused reserve against France two weeks ago, and Leinster lock Ryan Baird are in line to come off the bench for their first caps.
There's a new front row of Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong, the Lions tighthead given his first test start in a year.
With Ryan's return after injury against Wales in the first round, the in-form Tadhg Beirne moved from lock to blindside flanker, and Will Connors was on the openside flank.
Sexton was also injured against Wales and missed the loss to France, and Jordan Larmour was on the right wing with Keith Earls dropping to the reserves in an all-Leinster backline.
Ireland has lost its first two tournaments matches for the first time since 1998, while Italy has lost 29 consecutive tests in the competition since 2015.
Ireland: Hugo Keenan, Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe, Jonathan Sexton (captain), Jamison Gibson-Park; CJ Stander, Will Connors, Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Furlong, Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne. Reserves: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Craig Casey, Billy Burns, Keith Earls.
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