Tadhg Furlong ruled out of Ireland’s Six Nations opener away to Wales


Tadhg Furlong was ruled out of Ireland’s first Six Nations game in Wales on Saturday after picking up ankle and calf injuries… with Finlay Bealham set to step in for the Leinster star.

  • Leinster prop Tadhg Furlong has struggled with injury in recent weeks
  • Finlay Bealham will play in his place when Ireland take on Wales in the Six Nations
  • Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey will make his first Six Nations start in seven years

Ireland mainstay Tadhg Furlong will miss Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations opening game against Wales due to a calf injury.

Connacht’s Finlay Bealham will start in Furlong’s place at tight head in Cardiff, with Tom O’Toole covering from the bench.

Leinster man Furlong has been sidelined with ankle and calf problems in recent weeks but is making good progress and is expected to recover in the next seven days.

Andy Farrell’s inaugural tournament pick contains no more surprises as his team looks to build a stellar 2022 that propelled them to the top of the world rankings.

Center Stuart McCloskey will make his first Championship appearance since his Test debut seven years ago.

Tadhg Furlong has been ruled out of Ireland's first Six Nations game with Wales on Saturday

Tadhg Furlong has been ruled out of Ireland’s first Six Nations game with Wales on Saturday

The Ulster player has retained the number 12 shirt ahead of Bundee Aki to continue his midfield partnership with Garry Ringrose, having impressed in November’s wins over South Africa, Fiji and Australia.

Their only previous tournament appearance came in 2016 when they won the first of their nine games to date in a 21-10 loss to England at Twickenham.

James Lowe returns to the left flank after missing the autumn campaign with a calf injury, while captain Johnny Sexton is set to lead the team from the starting position after overcoming his cheekbone problem.

Sexton will be joined by his Leinster team-mate Jamison Gibson-Park in the midfield positions, with Mack Hansen on the right flank and Hugo Keenan in the wing-back position.

Munster lock Tadhg Beirne was given the nod over the returning to fitness Iain Henderson in a fairly established front group and will line up alongside vice-captain James Ryan.

Hooker Dan Sheehan will slot in between Andrew Porter and Bealham, while reigning World Player of the Year Josh Van Der Flier and Peter O’Mahony sit on either side of Caelan Doris in the back row.

Ross Byrne has been preferred to rookie Jack Crowley as a backup to number 10 Sexton.

He is joined on the bench by Aki, who was suspended for Ireland’s first two games in November and has not played since December 23 due to Connacht, O’Toole, Henderson, Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Jack Conan and Conor Murray left him out. .

Ireland head to Cardiff from their pre-tournament camp in Portugal as fringe title favorites ahead of 2022 Grand Slam winners France.

The Irish have not won a Six Nations game at the Principality Stadium since 2013 and suffered a painful 21-16 defeat there in their opening game of the 2021 championship.

Finlay Bealham (centre) will start Saturday's game at the Principality Stadium in Wales

Finlay Bealham (centre) will start Saturday’s game at the Principality Stadium in Wales


H. Keenan (Leinster); M Hansen (Connacht), G Ringrose (Leinster), S McCloskey (Ulster), J Lowe (Leinster); J Sexton (Leinster, captain), J Gibson-Park (Leinster); A Porter (Leinster), D Sheehan (Leinster), F Bealham (Connacht), T Beirne (Munster), J Ryan (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), J Van Der Flier (Leinster), C Doris (Leinster) ) ).

Replacements: R Herring (Ulster), C Healy (Leinster), T O’Toole (Ulster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Conan (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), R Byrne (Leinster), B Aki (Connacht) ) ).