Mack Hansen set for debut in Six Nations opener

Photo curtesy of Connacht Rugby

Connacht’s Mack Hansen is set to make his debut for Ireland after being named in the starting 15 for the Six Nations opener against Wales on Saturday.

Hansen has impressed since making the move to Connacht from Australian side Brumbies in the summer, scoring six tries in eight appearances in the United Rugby Championship, making him the competition’s top scorer.

He is also first for metres gained and second for clean breaks in the competition.

Born in Australia, Hansen is eligible to play for Ireland through his mother, who was from Cork. Hansen was called up to the Ireland squad for the November series but failed to make an appearance.

His efforts this season have clearly made an impression on coach Andy Farrell, as he has been selected ahead of the likes of Keith Earls, Jordan Larmour, and Robert Baloucoune.

Hansen has been a breath of fresh air for Irish rugby, with solo memorable tries against Ulster and Leinster making fans and pundits take notice.

Elsewhere in the squad, Munster’s Tadhg Bernie has been picked in the second row alongside James Ryan, with Ulster Iain Henderson failing to recovery from injury in time.

Connacht centre Bundee Aki has been selected ahead of his former provincial teammate Robbie Henshaw, with Garry Ringrose partnering Aki in the middle.

Connacht prop Finlay Bealham is named among the replacements, while Joey Carbery has been selected on the bench ahead of Jack Carty, despite the Connacht number ten’s good form.

Ireland team to face Wales: Hugo Keenan, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen, Johnny Sexton (captain), Jamison Gibson Park, Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Josh Van Der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Ryan Baird, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, James Hume.

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