The 2022 Six Nations championship has hit the midpoint. Ireland after their crushing win against Wales which I was lucky to have a ticket for and a narrow defeat against the French in Paris welcome Italy to Dublin on Sunday. It is a game Ireland should look to get back on track and put up a high score against a struggling Italian team at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
Ireland coach Andy Farrell has made five changes to the starting team from the France game. Michael Lowry, James Lowe, Dan Sheehan, Ryan Baird, and Peter O’Mahony all come into the starting team. Michael Lowry from Ulster will make his Ireland debut at full-back against the Italians. Lowry has been in sparkling form this season scoring three tries for his province in the European Champions Cup and he will be determined to make his mark on the international scene. James Lowe comes straight in on the left wing after an injury that ruled him out for the first two rounds.
The powerful Dan Sheehan who replaces the injured Ronan Kelleher will start for Ireland for the first time on Sunday with this being his fifth cap. He made a great impact off the bench in Paris and made a crucial try-saving tackle at the end. Munster’s Peter O’Mahony will captain the side in place of Johnny Sexton who is on the bench and James Ryan who has been ruled out due to injury. O’Mahony will also bring leadership to the team as he wins his 82nd cap in green.
Joey Carbery will retain the number 10 jersey for this match after his strong outing against the French. It is great to see him getting a good run of games together since coming back from injury. It is crucial too because it gives him another chunk of game time in the ten shirt which will be crucial come World Cup 2023. Carbery’s goal kicking was very impressive against France.
Ireland will be looking to lay down a marker with a refreshed team and they will be looking to play with tempo throughout the whole game. Jamison Gibson Park will play with tempo and look for quick rucks to try and tire the Italians early on in the match. It is a team picked for speed and expansive Rugby. Just a word on Italy they have a very talented u20s squad coming through but it has been seven years since they last won a Six Nations game and I expect that drought will continue this weekend. Ireland should be able to get four tries and secure the bonus point on Sunday whilst increasing the points difference. The Grand Slam may be out of reach but the Championship is still on for this group of players.