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GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v Fiji

GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v Fiji

Out-half Jonathan Sexton will make his Test debut for Ireland and replacements Sean Cronin and Sean O’Brien could also make their senior bows as Declan Kidney’s charges entertain Fiji in the second match of the GUINNESS Series 2009 (The RDS, kick-off 5.15pm).

GUINNESS SERIES 2009: Saturday, November 21

IRELAND v FIJI, The RDS, 5.15pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC Two NI)

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* A limited number of tickets will be available to purchase from the IRFU Offices at 10-12 Lansdowne Road, Ballsbridge on the day of the game between 1pm and 4pm.

Tickets are priced at: €;25 -Terrace, €;32 – Anglesea Stand Reserved, €;32 – North and South Stand (Unreserved), €;40 – Grandstand Reserved.

Team News: Naming his team for Saturday’s clash with Fiji at the RDS, Ireland coach Declan Kidney has made eight changes to the side that drew 20-20 with Australia in the opening game of the GUINNESS Series 2009.

The Fiji game, which will be the first ever senior international to take place in the Royal Dublin Society grounds, sees five changes in the backs division and three in the pack.

Keith Earls, who replaced the injured Luke Fitzgerald against Australia, retains his place on the left wing with Shane Horgan coming in on the right wing for Tommy Bowe.

Horgan captained Ireland ‘A’ to an impressive 48-19 victory over Tonga at Ravenhill last weel.

Gordon D’Arcy comes in at centre, linking up with Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll, and there is a new half-back partnership with Jonathan Sexton earning his first cap at number 10 and his provincial colleague Eoin Reddan starting at scrum half.

Tom Court starts the game at loosehead prop and Leo Cullen comes into the side to partner Paul O’Connell in the second row. There is one change to the back row with Denis Leamy replacing David Wallace.

The replacements include Andrew Trimble and the uncapped Sean O’Brien, both of whom were involved in the recent ‘A’ game against Tonga.

Tomas O’Leary, Paddy Wallace and Donncha O’Callaghan have been named amongst the replacements after starting against Australia, with Tony Buckley and the uncapped Sean Cronin completing the bench.

Meanwhile, Ulster winger Timoci Nagusa will be on the Fijian replacements bench for Saturday’s GUINNESS Series Test against Ireland.

Fiji coach Glen Ella, whose management team includes former Leinster forwards coach Mike Brewer, has made five changes to the side that lost 23-10 to Scotland at Murrayfield.

The experienced Norman Ligairi returns at full-back, replacing the benched Josh Matavesi, and Nasoni Roko comes in for Napolioni Nalaga on the left wing.

There are three changes up front, with Asaike Tarogi and Viliame Seuseu drafted into the front row, and Apolosi Satala joining his Gloucester team-mate Akapusi Qera in the back row.

Notably, Ulster’s popular winger Nagusa has gained a place on the bench having linked up with the squad in Dublin earlier in the week.

Nagusa has played three times for Fiji, his last appearance coming in June of this year when he scored two tries in the Pacific Nations Cup win over Tonga.

Fiji captain Seremaia Bai, who plays his club rugby for French side Clermont Auvergne, is one of the current players who lined out in the 64-17 defeat to Ireland on their last visit to Dublin in November 2002.

Ligairi, out-half Nicky Little and lock Ifereimi Rawaqa also featured in that game at Lansdowne Road.

IRELAND: Rob Kearney; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Tom Court, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Leo Cullen, Paul O’Connell, Stephen Ferris, Denis Leamy, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Tony Buckley, Donncha O’Callaghan, Sean O’Brien, Tomas O’Leary, Paddy Wallace, Andrew Trimble.

FIJI: Norman Ligairi; Vereniki Goneva, Gabiriele Lovobalavu, Seremaia Bai (capt), Nasoni Roko; Nicky Little, Mosese Rauluni; Asaike Tarogi, Viliame Veikoso, Viliame Seuseu, Wame Lewaravu, Ifereimi Rawaqa, Apolosi Satala, Akapusi Qera, Asaeli Boko.

Replacements: Isireli Ledua, Graham Dewes, Leone Nakarawa, Samu Bola, Waisale Vatuvoka, Josh Matavesi, Timoci Nagusa. 

Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Carlo Damasco (Italy), Tim Hayes (Wales)
Television Match Official: Giulio De Santis (Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 1/50; Draw: 50/1; Fiji to win: 16/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Declan Kidney (Ireland) – “I thought Scotland played quite well against Fiji last week and Fiji didn’t make it easy. They now have another week under their belts.

“As for our lads getting up for this game, I think you only have to ask Shane (Horgan) or Gordon (D’Arcy), or any of the other guys who have come into the team.

“They are champing at the bit in training for this one. I couldn’t guarantee anything, I’m not sure how the game will go, but we have picked a team that we believe will be hungry for the match.

“No doubt, Fiji will be too, given that they now have the Scotland game behind them.

“The RDS pitch is in excellent condition, so a huge amount of credit must go to everyone who has been looking after it.

“Hopefully, the weather won’t be too bad because that will be difficult to overcome. But, if the weather is very bad, there is nothing any of us can do about it.

“It will be the same for both teams, we will just have to work our way through it, and play what is in front of us.”

Glen Ella (Fiji) – “I think we need to be more physical then we have been except the Fijians are very nice people and I think we sometimes take that into a game, being very nice people. I think we have to get out of that.

“So we’ve got to take this game to Ireland instead of them bringing it to us, but as you know the nature of the Fijian is not like that.

“We’ve got some general ideas of where we want to run, we want to probably target a few areas in the field but you’ve got to have that first phase ball before you can target things.

“To put plans in execution, you know you got to be able to have that ball.

“We’ve had plenty time to reflect and look at areas where we went wrong (against Scotland). Ireland has a fantastic lineout and defensive lineout so that’s going to be very difficult as well, it’s not going to make it any easier for us.

“It’s going to be more difficult, if anything, than Scotland. The boys have a lot of belief in their religion which is great but they need to take that kind of believe to the rugby pitch.”

Pre-Match Links –

Kidney Previews Fiji Encounter 

Fiji Will Improve On Scottish Display – O’Driscoll 

In Pics: Ireland And Fiji Training At The RDS 

Leo Cullen On Irish Rugby TV

Tom Court On Irish Rugby TV

Head-To-Head: Ireland v Fiji

Recent Form: Ireland – 2009: Won 30-21 v France home (Six Nations); Won 38-9 v Italy away (Six Nations); Won 14-13 v England home (Six Nations); Won 22-15 v Scotland away (Six Nations); Won 17-15 v Wales away (Six Nations); Won 25-6 v Canada away (Summer Tour); Won 27-10 v USA away (Summer Tour); Drew 20-20 v Australia home (Autumn Series) 

Fiji – 2009: Won 32-26 v Tonga away (Pacific Nations Cup); Won 19-14 v Samoa home (Pacific Nations Cup); Won 40-39 v Japan home (Pacific Nations Cup); Lost 23-10 v Scotland away (Autumn Tour)