Preview Six Nations – Ireland Looks Set To Continue Winning Streak Against Italy


Grand Slam champions Ireland welcome Italy to Dublin for their first home game of the 2024 Guinness Men’s Six Nations after a dream start away in France.

Andy Farrell’s side laid down a marker with a record 38-17 over Les Bleus, running in five tries in Marseille to cement their status as favourites to retain their title.

They now return to Dublin, where they are unbeaten since 2021, playing host to an Italy side that fell to a narrow defeat to England in Rome on the opening weekend.

Gli Azzurri led at half-time against England but eventually fell short in a 27-24 loss, the closest they have come to beating the English, the only team whom they are yet to conquer in the Championship.

Gonzalo Quesada’s men face a daunting encounter on Sunday however, looking to become the first side since France three years ago to come away from the Aviva Stadium with a victory.

Ireland have made six changes from the side that triumphed at the Velodrome, as well as changing their skipper for the reception of Italy.

Caelan Doris moves to the openside and will lead Ireland for the first time in the absence of Peter O’Mahony. He will be joined by two replacements from last week in the back row as Ryan Baird gets the nod at blindside flanker with Jack Conan at No.8.

Elsewhere in the pack, James Ryan gets the start in the second row in place of Tadhg Beirne, with Finlay Bealham the other change at tighthead with Tadhg Furlong not involved.

There are two changes in the backline as Craig Casey comes in at scrum-half, Jamison Gibson-Park drops to the bench, and Stuart McCloskey replaces Bundee Aki at inside centre.

On the bench, Jeremy Loughman and Tom O’Toole come in as prop cover, with Iain Henderson, Harry Byrne and Jordan Larmour also included for the first time this Championship.

New Ireland captain Caelan Doris: “Andy told me on Tuesday and I’m delighted to be in this position for the week. There are lots of nerves but lots of excitement and it’s helped by having such a good group around me and such good leaders. It’s been made easy by them.”

Italy have been forced into two changes up front through injury, with Sebastian Negri and Lorenzo Cannone both injured against England.

That means that skipper Michele Lamaro is shifting to No.8 with Manuel Zuliani and Alessandro Izekor on either side of him.

Meanwhile, there are two further changes to the backline, with fit-again Ange Capuozzo in at full-back for Tommaso Allan, while Stephen Varney takes over from Alessandro Garbisi at scrum-half.

Reverting to a 5-3 bench split, Quesada could hand Ross Vintcent his debut after the Exeter back-rower was included among the replacements.

Italy head coach Gonzalo Quesada: “In Dublin, our focus will be on our performance and trying to take another step in our growth against one of the strongest teams in the world. We will be missing two key elements in the forwards from the last game but we have a young group looking to break through.

“We expect a tough game and it will be crucial that we stay lucid throughout the game.”


Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Craig Casey; 1 Andrew Porter, 2 Dan Sheehan, 3 Finlay Bealham, 4 Joe McCarthy, 5 James Ryan, 6 Ryan Baird, 7 Caelan Doris (c), 8 Jack Conan. 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

Italy: 15 Ange Capuozzo, 14 Lorenzo Pani, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 1 Danilo Fischetti, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 5 Federico Ruzza, 6 Alessandro Izekor, 7 Manuel Zuliani, 8 Michele Lamaro (c). Replacements: 16 Giacomo Nicotera, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Giosue Zilocchi, 19 Andrea Zambonin, 20 Ross Vintcent, 21 Martin Page-Relo, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Federico Mori.