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Johnny Sexton has been selected at fly-half for Ireland‘s final Rugby World Cup warm-up against Wales in Dublin.
The 34-year-old has not played for Ireland since the Six Nations with Joe Schmidt keen to preserve his key playmaker ahead of the World Cup.
Saturday’s game will be a home farewell for Schmidt, who is retiring from coaching after the World Cup, and captain Rory Best, who wins his 120th cap and has also announced his intention to retire after the tournament.
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Ireland’s win in Cardiff has restored some degree of confidence after being so comprehensively blown away by England, and Schmidt has opted for an extremely strong squad as his side tune-up for the final time before heading for Japan.
Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong join Best in a first-choice front row.
Jean Kleyn – controversially preferred to veteran Devin Toner in Ireland’s World Cup squad – joins James Ryan in the second row.
CJ Stander comes in on the blindside with Jack Conan retaining his place at number eight.
Ireland will give their key half-backs a start in tandem, with Conor Murray partnering Sexton.
Bundee Aki starts at 12 with Robbie Henshaw into the lineup at outside centre.
And the entire back three from a week ago drops out, with Jordan Larmour g
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