Ireland trio back for crunch

Heaslip, Flannery and O'Leary return for Wales trip

Last Updated: 17/03/09 2:28pm

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Heaslip: starting role

Heaslip: starting role

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Ireland have made three changes for Saturday's RBS Six Nations finale against Wales as they attempt to complete the Grand Slam for the first time since 1948.

"The difference between the players is so small. The changes were partly for tactical reasons. It's about getting the right chemistry."
Declan Kidney Quotes of the week

Number eight Jamie Heaslip, hooker Jerry Flannery and scrum-half Tomas O'Leary return in the only alterations to the side that beat Scotland 22-15 last Sunday.

Heaslip, a try-scoring substitute against the Scots, is preferred to Denis Leamy who is recovering from the shoulder injury he sustained at Murrayfield, but is included on the bench.

Ulster's Rory Best makes way for Flannery in the middle of the front row, while Peter Stringer - man-of-the-match in Edinburgh - is also relegated to the replacements to allow O'Leary to resume his half-back partnership with Ronan O'Gara.

Head coach Declan Kidney has opted to persevere with Gordon D'Arcy at inside centre, meaning Paddy Wallace must be content to warm the bench.

Chemistry

Kidney said: "The difference between the players is so small. The changes were partly for tactical reasons. It's about getting the right chemistry."

A total of 11 players have started every one of Ireland's Six Nations matches this season.

Victory in Cardiff would complete a long overdue Grand Slam and claim Ireland's first championship title since 1985.

Wales must triumph by at least 13 points to successfully defend their crown.

Ireland: 15 R Kearney (Leinster), 14 T Bowe (Ospreys), 13 B O'Driscoll (Leinster, captain), 12 G D'Arcy (Leinster), 11 L Fitzgerald (Leinster), 10 R O'Gara (Munster), 9 T O'Leary (Munster), 1 M Horan (Munster), 2 J Flannery (Munster), 3 J Hayes (Munster), 4 D O'Callaghan (Munster), 5 P O'Connell (Munster), 6 S Ferris (Ulster), 7 D Wallace (Munster), 8 J Heaslip (Leinster)
Replacements: 16 R Best (Ulster), 17 T Court (Ulster), 18 M O'Driscoll (Munster), 19 D Leamy (Munster), 20 P Stringer (Munster), 21 P Wallace (Ulster), 22 G Murphy (Leicester)

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