Ulster’s Darren Cave is set to make his World Cup debut on Sunday against Romania as Ireland opt to give Robbie Henshaw more time to fully recover from a hamstring strain.
Henshaw is understood to have fully recovered from the injury scare – suffered in training last week, forcing him out of the opening Pool D victory against Canada – but the Connacht centre has not completed a full training session this week.
That would suggest the 22-year-old will not be involved at all on Sunday at Wembley but will begin his World Cup odyssey against Italy a week later.
It opens the door for Ulsterman Cave and he is likely to partner stablemate, Jared Payne, in the midfield.
The 28-year-old was a surprise inclusion in Joe Schmidt’s final squad, but as a specialist 12 and 13, gave Ireland sound options.
He will take the place of Luke Fitzgerald from last week’s starting line-up.
Ireland declared a healthy squad ahead of Friday’s match day selection.
Team manager, Mick Kearney , confirming some players had sat out training earlier in the week but had trained yesterday, said: “The good news to report is that every player is fit and available for the match on Sunday.
“As in any match we would be managing players in and out of training, so some guys who may have trained yesterday may have sat out today.”
There was always expected to be some rotation given the strength of the opposition still to come in the group.
Schmidt will want to be able to pick his strongest available squad to face France in three weeks, a game which should decide who finishes first and second in Pool D.
Before that, Ireland will face another familiar foe in Italy.
Tommy Bowe is almost certain to start on the wing and the British Lion will see it as a massive opportunity to put his hand up after some indifferent displays during the build-up games.