Ireland fly-half Burns earns first start against Georgia

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has named his first Six Nations squad of 2021 with Johnny Sexton as captain. Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Fly-half Billy Burns has been handed a first start for Ireland as they take on Georgia in their final Autumn Nations Cup Group A clash in Dublin on Sunday, while uncapped centre Shane Daly has been included on the bench.

Burns, 26, has two appearances as a replacement after making his debut earlier this month and it was his clever chip that set up a try for Jacob Stockdale against England. He will play alongside experienced scrumhalf Conor Murray.

Stuart McCloskey will win a fourth cap at inside centre with Chris Farrell in the No.13 jersey, Stockdale at full-back, and Hugo Keenan and Keith Earls on the wings.

Captain James Ryan leads from the second row along with Iain Henderson, while in front of them is hooker Rob Herring, and props Finlay Bealham and Andrew Porter.

CJ Stander reverts to number eight at the back of the scrum, with flanks Tadhg Beirne and Will Connors.

Daly is on the bench and in line for a debut in what is a 5-3 split between forwards and backs.

If they are to top their pool, Ireland must hope that England suffer a surprise defeat to Wales in Llanelli on Saturday in the other Group A fixture, which could allow them to overtake Eddie Jones's side with a bonus-point win.

They currently trail England by 39 on points difference -- a figure that will be smaller should England lose -- meaning that a hefty bonus-point win over a Georgian team yet to register a point could take them top.

Ireland have won all four previous meetings with Georgia, scoring 49 points or more in three of those games.

Meanwhile, Soso Matiashvili will return at fullback as one of six changes for Georgia, it was announced on Friday.

Matiashvili sat out the earlier defeats by England and Wales but returns to the starting line-up along with Tamaz Mchedlidze, who moves from the bench to the wing as the side seeks more attacking threat.

Coach Levan Maisashvili has also changed four members of the forward pack, with Shalva Mamukashvili coming in at hooker between props Mikheil Nariashvili and Beka Gigashvili.

There is an all-new second row as Nodar Cheishvili returns from injury to start alongside Lasha Jaiani, with Kote Mikautadze failing to recover from a rib injury sustained against Wales.

Tornike Jalagonia is a change at flank and packs down at the back of the scrum with Beka Saginadze and No. 8 Beka Gorgadze.

Maisashvili has included two uncapped players on the bench, 20-year-old scrum-half Mikheil Alania and teenage fullback David Niniashvili.

Georgia have yet to score a point in the Autumn Nations Cup, going down 40-0 to England and losing 18-0 in the wet to Wales last weekend.

Ireland Team to play Georgia

Starting XV:

Jacob Stockdale, Hugo Keenan, Chris Farrell, Stuart McCloskey, Keith Earls, Billy Burns, Conor Murra, Finlay Bealham, Rob Herring, Andrew Porter, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Will Connors, CJ Stander


Dave Heffernan, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Quinn Roux, Peter O'Mahony, Kieran Marmion, Ross Byrne, Shane Daly.

Georgia Team to play Ireland

Starting XV:

Soso Matiashvili, Akaki Tabutsadze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Merab Sharikadze (captain), Tamaz Mchedlidze, Tedo Abzhandadze, Vasil Lobzhanidze, Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Beka Gigashvili, Nodar Cheishvili, Lasha Jaiani, Beka Saginadze, Tornike Jalagonia, Beka Gorgadze.


Giorgi Chkoidze, Lexo Kaulashvili, Giorgi Melikidze, Giorgi Javakhia, Mikheil Gachechiladze; Mikheil Alania, Demur Tapladze, David Niniashvili.