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Ireland unchanged for Wales clash

Press Association logoPress Association 8/03/2017 Nick Purewal

Garry Ringrose has kept his place at outside centre in an unchanged Ireland side to face Wales.

Jared Payne has failed to shake off heavy bruising from last Friday's Ulster win over Treviso, leaving Ringrose to retain the No.13 jersey for Friday's crucial Six Nations encounter.

Payne has made an unlikely return to Ireland's squad for the final two Six Nations rounds, after suffering a nasty kidney injury in November.

Ireland could have benefited from the 31-year-old's defensive leadership against Wales' powerful back line, but the New Zealand-born centre was not quite ready for action.

Ireland's sole change to the matchday 23 that saw off France 19-9 in Dublin last month sees the luckless Andrew Trimble miss out through a hand problem having only just beaten a groin issue.

Trimble will miss the rest of the Six Nations after suffering his latest setback in action for Ulster on Friday, so Tommy Bowe takes a seat on Ireland's bench.

Vice captain Jamie Heaslip will win his 95th Ireland cap this weekend, and his 100th Test bow in all when including his five for the British and Irish Lions.

IRELAND: Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, CJ Stander, Devin Toner, Donnacha Ryan, Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best, Jack McGrath. Interchange: Niall Scannell, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Iain Henderson , Peter O'Mahony, Kieran Marmion, Paddy Jackson, Tommy Bowe.

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