Ireland debut for McFadden

Leinster centre to start on the wing

Last Updated: 01/02/11 5:42pm

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McFadden: Ireland debut

McFadden: Ireland debut

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Fergus McFadden will make his Ireland debut for the RBS Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome.

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The Leinster centre has been named on the wing for the clash - and he will be alongside plenty of familiar faces with four of his provincial team-mates in the backline.

Luke Fitzgerald has been named at full-back, with Jonathan Sexton at fly-half and Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll in the centres.

Munster duo Tomas O'Leary (scrum-half) and Keith Earls (wing) complete the backline.

In the pack Sean O'Brien has been handed the No.8 jersey in the absence of Jamie Heaslip with Denis Leamy coming in for Stephen Ferris.

Paul O'Connell makes is first Test appearance in almost a year, while Rory Best and Mike Ross come into the front row.

And McFadden is relishing the chance to make his international debut.

Backed

"I feel my progress this season has been quite good," he said.

"When I was moved to the wing at Leinster I felt I was doing a job. Declan Kidney's backed me and I can't wait to go on Saturday.

"Playing on the wing has added another string to my bow. There's a World Cup around the corner and you've got to have that in the back of your mind. It's a competitive squad at the best of times.

"Down the line I'd like to think I'm a centre but at the moment I'm enjoying it on the wing.

"You don't get your hands on the ball as much but your involvement is really important, it can win you games sometimes.

"I like to think I'm a bit of a footballer and that I can play in a few positions. I've got the pace to be there as well."

Ireland go into the game with Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney, Geordan Murphy, Heaslip and Ferris all missing through injury.

Ireland: 15 Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), 14 Fergus McFadden (Leinster), 13 Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), 12 Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster), 11 Keith Earls (Munster), 10 Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), 9 Tomas O'Leary (Munster), 8 Sean O'Brien (Leinster), 7 David Wallace (Munster), 6 Denis Leamy (Munster), 5 Paul O'Connell (Munster), 4 Donncha O'Callaghan (Munster), 3 Mike Ross (Leinster), 2 Rory Best (Ulster), 1 Cian Healy (Leinster).
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin (Connacht), 17 Tom Court (Ulster), 18 Leo Cullen (Leinster), 19 Shane Jennings (Leinster), 20 Eoin Reddan (Leinster), 21 Ronan O'Gara (Munster), 22 Paddy Wallace (Ulster).

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