Bundee Aki and Kieran Marmion have been included in the match day squad to face Scotland on Saturday. Aki set to gain his sixth cap as he starts at inside centre, while Marmion is named as replacement scrum half.

Head coach Joe Schmidt has made two changes to the starting team that defeated Wales 37-27 in Dublin two weeks ago, as Ireland look to take a step closer to their first Six Nations title since 2015.

Tadhg Furlong has recovered from a hamstring injury to reclaim the number 3 jersey from Andrew Porter, who proved a more than able deputy against the Welsh. The other change sees Garry Ringrose take over from the injured Chris Farrell (ACL) at outside centre.

Forming an exciting midfield pairing with Bundee Aki, Ringrose is back on the international stage for the first time since last summer’s tour of the USA and Japan. The 23-year-old has had an injured-disrupted season following shoulder surgery and a more recent operation on an ankle injury.

The back-line is completed by key half-backs Jonathan Sexton, who is the Championship’s third top scorer with 32 points, and Conor Murray, and Rob Kearney, Keith Earls and Jacob Stockdale are set for their fourth successive outing together in the back-three.

Stockdale has enjoyed a dream start to his Ireland career with eight tries in seven Tests. The 21-year-old Ulster winger is the current leading try scorer in the 2018 Six Nations with four tries – a brace each against Italy and Wales.

It is the same starting front row from the opening round win over France as Furlong is reunited with Cian Healy and hooker Rory Best, who is seeking his 16th victory in 25 Tests as Ireland captain.

James Ryan packs down again alongside his Leinster colleague Devin Toner in the second row, while the loose forward trio is also unchanged with Dan Leavy combining with Munster duo Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander. Iain Henderson, who is back to full fitness, and Jordi Murphy provide lock and back row cover on the bench.

Murphy played against Fiji last November and his most recent Six Nations appearance came in Ireland’s memorable 2015 final round triumph over Scotland in Edinburgh. The final switch for this weekend sees recent debutant Jordan Larmour get the nod for the number 23 shirt.

Commenting on Ringrose’s return and the battle for the second row spots, Schmidt said: “There are always concerns about players for different reasons. Garry has only had six games in this entire season. That’s something you calculate in but sometimes you don’t have the luxury of a plethora of options as is the case at centre for us now.

“Garry’s been extraordinary when he has played for us. He’s done great. He was outstanding in Japan in the back-line along with Keith Earls. We’re hoping he can hit the ground running and get straight back into that form.

“He’s a smart player, and hopefully he can get the balance between when he has to work hard and when he can get a breather back on the pitch. It’s a needs-must situation, but it’s a situation where we’ve got a lot of trust and faith in Garry.

“There wasn’t much between the three of them (James, Devin and Iain for the second row), they have done really well in the Championship so far. It was just trying to keep continuity with what we’d done against Wales and heading into this game.

“Iain was fully fit, he could have played against Wales which would have been a risk but that’s not the case this time. We’re just trying to keep a balance. And it could add to the last 30 minutes of our game bringing on an athlete like him. That also applies to the energy Jack McGrath and Andrew Porter can bring to us.”

IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Scotland, 2018 NatWest 6 Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, March 10, kick-off 2.15pm):

Player/Club/Province/Caps –

15 – Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 81
14 – Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 65
13 – Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 11
12 – Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 5
11 – Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 7
10 – Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 71
9 – Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 62
1 – Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 76
2 – Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt) 109
3 – Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 21
4 – James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 6
5 – Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 56
6 – Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 45
7 – Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster) 7
8 – CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 21


16 – Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 59
17 – Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 45
18 – Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 5
19 – Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 36
20 – Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster) 18
21 – Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht) 19
22 – Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Leinster) 8
23 – Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 1


Aki and Marmion named in matchday 23 to face England