The Leicester Tigers fly-half, who has just agreed a new contract at Welford Road, has impressed the Irish selectors with his form this season and goes straight into the team in Belfast. He has gained previous international experience at Sevens level as well as under-19s and under-21s.
Club colleagues Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings are both named on the Irish bench. Cullen has 18 senior caps, while Jennings captained the A side in last season's Churchill Cup campaign.
The team is captained by veteran Malcolm O'Kelly, who has recovered from a knee injury that saw him ruled out of contention for the RBS 6 Nations opener against Wales.
Frankie Sheahan and Keith Gleeson help to anchor an experienced pack but the backline by contrast has only nine senior caps between them - and eight of those belong to Tommy Bowe.
Ireland A (vs England Saxons, Ravenhill, Friday 7.45)
15 Danny Riordan (Galwegians/Connacht)
14 Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins)
13 Barry Murphy (UL Bohemians/Munster)
12 Kieran Lewis (St Mary's College/Leinster)
11 Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
10 Ian Humphreys (Leicester Tigers)
9 Conor O'Loughlin (Buccaneers/Conncacht)
1 Ronnie McCormack (UCD/Leinster)
2 Frankie Sheahan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
3 Bryan Young (Ballymena/Ulster)
4 Trevor Hogan (Shannon/Leinster)
5 Malcolm O'Kelly (St Mary's College/Leinster, captain)
6 Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster)
7 Keith Gleeson (St Mary's College/Leinster)
8 Roger Wilson (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
16 Bernard Jackman (Clontarf/Leinster)
17 Peter Bracken (London Wasps)
18 Leo Cullen (Leicester Tigers)
19 Shane Jennings (Leicester Tigers)
20 Kieran Campbell (Dungannon/Ulster)
21 Johnny Sexton (St Mary's College/Leinster)
22 John Hearty (Galwegians/Connacht)