18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
IRELAND v SOUTH AFRICA, Aviva Stadium, 5.30pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC Two)
Team News: Number 8 Jamie Heaslip will captain Ireland in the opening game of the 2012 GUINNESS Series against South Africa on Saturday evening.
Heaslip will be leading his country for the first time when he walks the team onto the Aviva Stadium pitch as part of a side that contains one new cap in the starting line-up and a further three uncapped players among the replacements.
Richardt Strauss will earn his first cap for Ireland at hooker in the front row alongside his Leinster colleagues Cian Healy and Mike Ross.
Mike McCarthy is selected in the second row alongside Donnacha Ryan, with Chris Henry lining out at openside flanker and Peter O'Mahony positioned at blindside.
Simon Zebo will be earning his first start for Ireland at full-back, in a back-three that has plenty of experience in Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe, who will be earning his 50th cap for Ireland since making his debut against the USA in 2004.
Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray will combine at half-back once again with Gordon D'Arcy and Keith Earls completing the starting line-up as the centre partnership.
Among the replacements, forwards David Kilcoyne, Michael Bent and Iain Henderson are all in line to make their international debuts should they be called into the game.
Meanwhile, South Africa head coach Heyneke meyer have opted for continuity in selecting their team to face Ireland on Saturday in the opening match of their November tour.
There are only three changes to the team that started the Springboks' last Test, against New Zealand in Soweto last month, and all three are enforced by injury.
The 22-year-old Pat Lambie starts at out-half in place of the injured Johan Goosen, while JP Pietersen returns on the right wing and Juandré Kruger comes into the second row.
The latter pair replace Bryan Habana and Andries Bekker respectively, who were both ruled out of the tour because of injury.
The South African side is captained by former Munster centre Jean de Villiers. Ulster half-back Ruan Pienaar will wear the number 9 jersey with ex-Leinster prop CJ van der Linde, named on the bench, set for his first appearance since the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
IRELAND: Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster); Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster), Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster); Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht), Peter O'Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster) (capt).
Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary's College/Leinster), David Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster), Michael Bent (Leinster), Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Iain Henderson (Queen's University/Ulster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster), Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster).
SOUTH AFRICA: Zane Kirchner (Blue Bulls); JP Pietersen (Sharks), Jaco Taute (Golden Lions), Jean de Villiers (Western Province) (capt), Francois Hougaard (Blue Bulls); Pat Lambie (Sharks), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster); Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), Eben Etzebeth (Western Province), Juandré Kruger (Blue Bulls), Francois Louw (Bath), Willem Alberts (Sharks), Duane Vermeulen (Western Province).
Replacements: Schalk Brits (Saracens), CJ van der Linde (Golden Lions), Pat Cilliers (Golden Lions), Flip van der Merwe (Blue Bulls), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks), Morné Steyn (Blue Bulls), Juan de Jongh (Western Province), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks).
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Stuart Terheege (England)
Television Match Official: Giulio De Santis (Italy)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 2/1; Draw: 22/1; South Africa to win: 4/9
Pre-Match Quotes: Jonathan Sexton (Ireland) - "We have to believe that we're good enough. We're obviously missing a lot of very good players throughout the team, but at some stage of their careers those guys that we're missing would have been the new kids on the block.
"It's time now for us to step up and start building the type of reputations those guys have. They developed those reputations by producing week in, week out for Ireland and hopefully we can start doing that now.
"We took a lot of positives from the first Test (against New Zealand) and then learnt a lot from the second.
"In that third Test we made three mistakes and were 21-0 down, then we were chasing the game which is very dangerous when you're playing the All Blacks.
"They picked us off and we've learnt from that if we ever go behind again, we'll never chase it that hard. If we can be in it with 20 minutes to go, well anything can happen in Test rugby.
"We're concentrating on our performance against South Africa and trying to get things right when we have the ball."
Jean de Villiers (South Africa) - "We have come a long way as a team this year but we are looking to improve and take our game to the next level and win all three matches on tour.
"We have a lot of youngsters because we are missing some injured players with a lot of experience. Guys like winger Bryan Habana, loose forwards Pierre Spies and Schalk Burger and hooker Tiaan Liebenberg.
"I have huge respect for Brian (O'Driscoll), he is a fantastic player and they will miss his leadership. But Ireland are a quality side. It is never easy playing a Test match over there.
"I'm getting better. I'm not 100% yet but if all goes according to plan with the rehabilitation I should be ready for the Ireland match.
"We have lost three out of the last four matches against Ireland and it is something we want to improve on."
Pre-Match Links -
Recent Meetings -
2004 Autumn Test: Ireland 17 South Africa 12, Lansdowne Road
2006 Autumn Test: Ireland 32 South Africa 15, Lansdowne Road
2009 Autumn Test: Ireland 15 South Africa 10, Croke Park
2010 Autumn Test: Ireland 21 South Africa 23, Aviva Stadium
|10/11/12||Ireland||12 - 16||South Africa||49,781|
|6/11/10||Ireland||21 - 23||South Africa||35,517|
|28/11/09||Ireland||15 - 10||South Africa||74,950|