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centurian Conor Murray set to miss out as Johnny Sexton set to reach huge milestone for Ireland

Sexton is expected to be partnered by Leinster’s Jamison Gibson-Park at half-back with Conor Murray’s lack of minutes costing him the start

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Johnny Sexton (left) is set to win his 100th cap against Japan.

Johnny Sexton (left) is set to win his 100th cap against Japan.

Johnny Sexton (left) is set to win his 100th cap against Japan.

JOHNNY SEXTON will lead Ireland out for his 100th cap against Japan on Saturday and he'll have plenty of provincial colleagues around him with Andy Farrell poised to name as many as 12 players from Leinster in his starting XV.

Sexton is expected to be partnered by Leinster’s Jamison Gibson-Park at half-back with Conor Murray’s lack of minutes costing him the start. The scrum-half has managed just one bench appearance for Munster this season, so he’ll be among the replacements.

Garry Ringrose is likely to partner Bundee Aki in the centre as the Connacht man overcomes his knee injury, while Andrew Conway is set to link up with James Lowe and full-back Hugo Keenan in the back-three as Farrell challenges Lowe to put his defensive woes behind him.

Andrew Porter is the favourite to be named at loosehead prop after an impressive string of performances since shifting across the front-row, but Farrell may yet hold him reserve with the veteran Cian Healy thought to be firmly in the mix.

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Rónan Kelleher and Rob Herring are in a ding-dong battle for the No 2 shirt with Dan Sheehan also pushing hard, while Tadhg Furlong is a cert to start at tighthead prop.

Behind them, Iain Henderson misses out as Beirne joins James Ryan in the second-row. Like Murray, the Ulster captain has had a limited involvement this season and is expected to be sprung from the bench.

Beirne’s inclusion at lock means Caelan Doris and Josh van der Flier link up with Lion Jack Conan in the back-row.

Farrell has some big decisions to make regarding his bench, with Peter O'Mahony in a battle with Gavin Coombes for the reserve back-row spot and Jordan Larmour, Simon Zebo and Keith Earls scrapping for the No 23 shirt.

Possible Ireland team to face Japan: H Keenan; A Conway, G Ringrose, B Aki, J Lowe; J Sexton (capt), J Gibson-Park; A Porter; R Kelleher, T Furlong; T Beirne, J Ryan; C Doris, J van der Flier, J Conan.

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