Jump to main content



Ireland Complete Preparations For Series Opener

Ireland Complete Preparations For Series Opener

The Ireland squad wrapped up their preparations for the GUINNESS Series opener against South Africa with the Captain’s Run session at the Aviva Stadium today.

There are no late injury concerns for Declan Kidney’s men as they face into their first Test of the new international season.

Although regular captain Brian O’Driscoll and pack leader Paul O’Connell head up the list of absentees, assistant coach Les Kiss believes this much-changed Ireland team have what it takes to overcome South Africa.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

“We haven’t lamented in what we don’t have, we just have total faith in what we do have. If we put it out there on the park in the right way, there’s every chance we can win this game. We feel very confident,” he said.

“They’re a tough team to stop but when you go through our side, some players have stopped some of the biggest guys in Europe.

“We just have to make sure that as we go to bed tonight, we have it set in our hearts and minds that we’re up for it and will take it to them.

“You have to turn up with the mindset that you’ll go at these guys, get in the trenches with them and work them over.

“If we do that then we have some wonderful talent that we can release around the edges. But we have to front up and if we do, it’s quite exciting. We’ll be in a very good place. We know what they’ve got and we have to go at them with our game.”

Newly-appointed captain Jamie Heaslip leads a squad containing four uncapped players – hooker Richardt Strauss and replacements David Kilcoyne, Michael Bent and Iain Henderson.

There is a first start at full-back for Simon Zebo, who joins Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe – earning his 50th Ireland cap – in a potent looking back-three.

Donnacha Ryan and Mike McCarthy combine in a new-look second row and Chris Henry, playing his first home international, joins Peter O’Mahony and Heaslip in the back row.

Irish Rugby TV caught up with Ulster back rower Henry to chat about his selection for the South Africa game. After playing in away fixtures against Australia and New Zealand, it will be Henry’s first Test appearance on home soil.

Keith Earls, who will slot in at outside centre for injured skipper O’Driscoll, was also interviewed about Saturday’s showdown with the Springboks. It will be the Limerick man’s 33rd cap for Ireland.

Watch the interviews with Chris and Keith now on Irish Rugby TV’s YouTube channel.