Russia head coach Nikolai Nerush has selected his team and replacements for Sunday’s Rugby World Cup Pool C clash with Ireland in Rotorua (kick-off 6pm local time/6am Irish time.
There are nine changes, including one positional switch, to the side which scored three tries against Italy in a 53-17 defeat in Nelson on Tuesday.
Alexander Yanyushkin, the diminutive scrum half who changed the Bears’ game when he came on as a replacement against the Azzurri, regains the number 9 jersey and also replaces the rested Vladislav Korshunov as captain.
He starts with Konstantin Rachkov alongside him at half-back. Among the backs, winger Vladimir Ostroushko, Russia’s most-capped player Andrey Kuzin and former Leinster and Ireland underage player Vasily Artemyev keep their places, although the latter switches to full-back.
The match will have special significance for the 24-year-old, who learnt his rugby at Blackrock College, UCD and as a member of the Leinster Academy.
Artemyev’s move to full-back opens up the right wing berth for exciting debutant Denis Simplikevich. It is a big opportunity for the 20-year-old Siberian, a player who represents the future of Russian rugby.
Another player making his first Rugby World Cup appearance is the experienced Sergey Trishin at inside centre.
Trishin was a late addition to the Bears’ tournament squad, but has done enough in training to convince the coaching staff he deserves the number 12 shirt.
Up front Sergey Popov returns to propping duties alongside Valeriy Tsnobiladze and Alexey Khrokin, who wins his 75th cap, a record for a Russian forward.
The second row sees Denis Antonov pack down alongside Adam Byrnes, who played for Leinster for two seasons. He is currently tied to the Melbourne Rebels in his native Australia.
Man-of-the-match against Italy, Victor Gresev, is again named at number 8 and will be joined in the back row by Artem Fatakhov and Andrey Garbuzov.
Commenting on the selection, head coach Nikolai Nerush said: “We’ve been forced to address the impact of a few injuries which have not cleared up with such a short turnaround (between games). As such, we’ve decided that it is necessary to freshen the team up.
“The players coming in deserve their chance after playing a big part in Russia’s historic qualification for the Rugby World Cup and have earned their chance to represent their country at the tournament.”
RUSSIA Team & Replacements (v Ireland, 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C, Rotorua International Stadium, Sunday, September 25, kick-off 6pm local time/6am Irish time):
15 – Vasily Artemyev (Northampton Saints, England)
14 – Denis Simplikevich (Enisey-STM, Krasnoyarsk)
13 – Andrey Kuzin (VVA-Podmoskovye, Monino)
12 – Sergey Trishin (VVA-Podmoskovye, Monino)
11 – Vladimir Ostroushko (Enisey-STM, Krasnoyarsk)
10 – Konstantin Rachkov (Stade Phoceen, France)
9 – Alexander Yanyushkin (VVA-Podmoskovye, Monino) (capt)
1 – Sergey Popov (Slava-ShVSM, Moscow)
2 – Valery Tsnobiladze (Novokuznetsk, Novokuznetsk)
3 – Alexander Khrokin (VVA-Podmoskovye, Monino)
4 – Denis Antonov (Slava-ShVSM, Moscow)
5 – Adam Byrnes (Melbourne Rebels, Australia)
6 – Artem Fatakhov (VVA-Podmoskovye, Monino)
7 – Andrey Garbuzov (Krasniy Yar, Krasnoyarsk)
8 – Victor Gresev (VVA-Podmoskovye, Monino)
16 – Evgeny Matveev (VVA-Podmoskovye, Monino)
17 – Ivan Prishchepenko (Krasniy Yar, Krasnoyarsk)
18 – Alexey Travkin (VVA-Podmoskovye, Monino)
19 – Alexander Voytov (VVA-Podmoskovye, Monino)
20 – Andrey Bykanov (Slava-ShVSM, Moscow)
21 – Mikhail Sidorov (Slava-ShVSM, Moscow)
22 – Mikhail Babaev (VVA-Podmoskovye, Monino)
Follow the Ireland team in New Zealand on www.twitter.com/irfurugby.