Garry Ringrose keeps place as Ireland name unchanged team to face Wales in Six Nations

The two sides clash under the lights at the Principality Stadium on Friday

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Garry Ringrose has kept his place at outside centre in an unchanged Ireland side to face Wales in Cardiff on Friday night.

Jared Payne has failed to shake off heavy bruising from last Friday's Ulster win over Treviso, leaving Leinster's Ringrose to retain the 13 shirt for the crucial RBS 6 Nations encounter.

Payne has made an unlikely return to Ireland's squad for the final two Six Nations rounds, after suffering a nasty kidney injury in November.

Ireland could have benefited from the 31-year-old's defensive leadership against Wales' powerful backline, but the New Zealand-born centre was not quite ready for action.

Ireland's sole change to the matchday 23 that saw off France 19-9 in Dublin on Saturday, February 25 sees the luckless Andrew Trimble miss out through a hand problem having only just beaten a groin issue.

Trimble will miss the rest of the Six Nations after suffering his new setback in action for Ulster on Friday, so Tommy Bowe takes a seat on Ireland's bench.

Vice-captain Jamie Heaslip will win his 95th Ireland cap this weekend, and his 100th Test bow in all when including his five for the British and Irish Lions.

"Jared was sharp this morning when he trained," said Schmidt.

"That put him in the frame but he just hadn't had enough time with us.

"He'll potentially be involved at the weekend with Ulster and he could potentially still be in the frame for the England game next week.

"Robbie (Henshaw) and Gary I think had a really good relationship and were building on that. So sometimes selection might be swayed because of the cohesion of the combination.

"Jared's experience, potentially even off the bench would have been handy, because he plays full-back and has played wing, as well as the midfield.

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Henshaw's relationship with Ringrose is why the latter keeps his place (Getty)

"There are things where he has contributed hugely in the past, but you've got to keep your rhythm in this competition. We've got combinations we do feel are improving and we want to give them the opportunity.

"Some of Garry's defensive work was outstanding against France. I thought his tackle on Guirado on the 22 when he closed the space so quickly, those are the things we see as growth points for Garry.

"We want him to continue in that manner."

Team: R Kearney (Leinster); K Earls (Munster), G Ringrose, R Henshaw (both Leinster), S Zebo (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); J McGrath (Leinster), R Best (Ulster, capt), T Furlong (Leinster), D Ryan (Munster), D Toner (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster), S O'Brien, J Heaslip (both Leinster).

Replacements: N Scannell (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), J Ryan (Munster), I Henderson (Ulster), P O'Mahony (Munster), K Marmion (Connacht), P Jackson, T Bowe (both Ulster).

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