Gilroy a controversial inclusion for Ireland

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Declan Kidney's decision to hand Craig Gilroy his first Six Nations appearance was the main talking point after the Ireland head coach named his starting XV for their opener against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

There's no question that Kidney has gambled on the young Ulster star, who will continue alongside Munster's exciting Simon Zebo and the vastly experienced and highly-rated Leinster star Rob Kearney, who returns to his No15 slot after missing the autumn internationals through injury.

The 21-year-old Gilroy featured in the non-capped matches against the Barbarians and Fiji before scoring a try on his full debut in their must-win clash against Argentina at the Aviva Stadium in November - the Irish were 46-24 winners.

And it appears the wing's sparkling Ireland form at the end of 2012 was enough to convince Kidney to keep Gilroy in his squad for the Six Nations at the expense of fellow Ulsterman Andrew Trimble - who is currently on 49 caps.

It's a controversial decision to leave out Trimble and include Gilroy. Since being usurped by his club-mate for the Fiji and Argentina fixtures, Trimble has been in outstanding form for Ulster in the Heineken Cup and RaboDirect Pro12.

But ultimately the 28-year-old has paid the price for a string of average performances which has seen Trimble rarely put a foot wrong - there's no doubt that he's a defensively sounder option than Gilroy - but has failed to really light Ireland up.

It appears Gilroy's performance against Argentina has provided him with sufficient credit to hold onto his starting place despite failing to score a try for Ulster since that touchdown at the Aviva Stadium against the Pumas.

He was the outstanding back in that game and Kidney clear rates his try scoring ability - aided by his searing pace - and he does bring a greater offensive threat than Trimble (or Fergus McFadden who has also been touted as an unlucky loser).

Of course for Kidney, Gilroy's inclusion should ease the pressure on the head coach after relentless calls to freshen up the Irish set-up following a below-par autumn period and a disappointing Six Nations 2012.

The Ulster wing is a star for the future and Kidney has clearly decided the time is right to blood the youngster and hopefully he can develop into a seasoned first-team star. Looking to the future appears to be the theme of this Six Nations for Ireland.

But there will be no easing into the role for Gilroy. First up, Ireland face the defending Six Nations champions at the vociferous Millennium Stadium. If that wasn't demanding enough, he will be facing towering Scarlets wing George North, who is sure to target the inexperienced Gilroy.

Come Sunday, the young wing may have once again earned rave reviews and justified his inclusion with a sparkling display against Wales - or else be heading back to Ulster!

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