The Ireland team and replacements for the Rugby World Cup Pool C match against Australia at Eden Park on Saturday (kick-off 8.30pm local time/9.30am Irish time) has been announced. There are four changes to the side that beat the USA.
Up front Cian Healy returns to the starting line-up at loosehead prop, having recovered from an eye injury.
He is joined in the pack by fellow Rugby World Cup debutant Sean O’Brien, who comes in to the back row alongside Stephen Ferris and Jamie Heaslip.
Eoin Reddan will start at scrum half, partnering his provincial colleague Jonathan Sexton, and Rob Kearney is set for his first start of the tournament at full-back.
Commenting on the selection, head coach Declan Kidney said: “The players coming back will bring freshness to the team. If you play the same team week in, week out, it becomes difficult for everybody.
“I didn’t think Sean, Rob or Cian were as fit as they needed to be to play against the USA last week so they got another week under their belts.
“They’re raring to go and that brings its own impetus into the team. Rob could have played last week but some guys have the capacity to come in and play well. Rob’s shown that in the past and against Scotland last month.
“For him to be more confident that his leg isn’t in any way an issue, I felt he should have another week off.
“You don’t want a fella having what the medics call a chronic injury which is ongoing from week to week. We have a small bit of that already in that Stephen (Ferris) doesn’t train every day. You don’t want that right through the team.”
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Australia, 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C, Eden Park, Saturday, September 17, kick-off 8.30pm local time/9.30am Irish time):
15 – Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) *
14 – Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 – Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt)
12 – Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
11 – Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
10 – Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
9 – Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
1 – Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) *
2 – Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
3 – Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
4 – Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
5 – Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster)
6 – Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster)
7 – Sean O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster) *
8 – Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)
16 – Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
17 – Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
18 – Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster) *
19 – Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
20 – Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
21 – Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
22 – Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
* Rugby World Cup debutant
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