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Ireland v Italy
Jonathan Sexton starts for Ireland
ESPN Staff
March 6, 2014
Jonathan Sexton starts for Ireland © PA Photos
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Ireland have made one change for Italy with Iain Henderson starting at blindside while Jonathan Sexton has recovered from a thumb injury to keep the fly-half berth.

Racing Metro suggested Sexton was facing a spell between 10 days and six weeks on the sidelines but he has seemingly recovered from the injury he sustained against England and starts at No.10.

"It was a sprained thumb, he finished the [England] game," Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said. "There was bruising, and it's gone. Look, I think one of the things is there's a bit of distance.

"There were some discussions with [Racing coach] Laurent Labit who was not in the country. Racing have been pretty good value, they understand Johnny's a pretty important shared resource."

The only change to the Ireland side comes at blindside with Henderson stepping in for the injured Peter O'Mahony. Rhys Ruddock is named on the bench alongside Eoin Reddan who replaces Isaac Boss.

"If this was the last game of the Six Nations we might have risked Peter," Schmidt said of O'Mahony. "But there was a risk. He didn't train today, and that was the difference. If he'd trained fully we would have included him but he wasn't able. I'd be really confident for him about Paris next week."

Brian O'Driscoll keeps the No.13 shirt and will become the world's most-capped player when he wins is 140th cap on Saturday.

Ireland:

Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Dave Kearney, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Paul O'Connell (captain), Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Jamie Heaslip

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Rhys Ruddock, Jordi Murphy, Eoin Reddan, Paddy Jackson, Fergus McFadden

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