The Ireland coaches have named the matchday 23 that will face Australia at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm) in the final game of the 2016 GUINNESS Series.
There are four changes to the side that started against New Zealand last Saturday. Garry Ringrose and Paddy Jackson start in place of the injured Robbie Henshaw and Jonathan Sexton, while Keith Earls comes onto the left wing and Iain Henderson starts in the second row.
Rory Best will win his 100th cap as he leads the team out on Saturday, becoming only the fifth Irish player to reach the century mark. Brian O’Driscoll (133), Ronan O’Gara (128), Paul O’Connell (108) and John Hayes (105) are the other players to reach 100 Ireland caps.
Hooker Best is joined in the front row by Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong, while Henderson partners Devin Toner in the second row. He started twice in the engine room during the summer tour of South Africa. The power-packed back row of CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip will get a second outing in the space of a week.
In the back-line, Conor Murray will partner Jackson at half-back with Ringrose making his second start of the GUINNESS Series, joining Jared Payne in the centre.
Earls, who has recovered from a dead leg, will reunite in the back-three with Andrew Trimble and full-back Rob Kearney, who, like Stander, went through the return-to-play protocols. The experienced trio are set to start together for the first time since last February’s Six Nations meeting with England.
Joey Carbery and Ultan Dillane come back onto the bench with Simon Zebo, following two starts against New Zealand, providing cover this week. Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Josh van der Flier and Kieran Marmion complete the squad.
Commenting on the team selection, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said: “Rob (Kearney) trained for the first time today and we just trained him away quietly because that’s how you train them back. He’s still got another 48 hours to really build himself into this weekend’s match, same with CJ Stander.
“Simon Zebo was very sore after the (New Zealand) game. He’s taken two or three days and trained today but probably didn’t train flat out, he’s still got another 48 hours to recover and we’re hoping he’ll be 100% by Saturday.
“With that little bit of lingering doubt, Keith Earls brings a freshness to the group and hopefully that will add a bit of vitality. Also Keith’s roundly experienced and gives us a bit of midfield cover should we need so that versatility is not too bad to have.
“Garry’s selection is a reflection of his performance last week. I thought he stepped in and did incredibly well (in the centre). He managed to get himself up in the top three tacklers in the game which is a fair reflection of the game.
“He also slipped a couple of tackles and he got one line break and almost got another couple. It’s another opportunity to invest in Garry. We’ve obviously had him in camp for the last year-and-a-half at different times and he’s been a bit of a long-term investment and we want to take this opportunity to develop him a little bit further.”
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Australia, 2016 GUINNESS Series, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, November 26, kick-off 5.30pm):
15. Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 71
14. Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster) 68
13. Jared Payne (Ulster) 18
12. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 2
11. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 53
10. Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster) 18
9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 52
1. Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 35
2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt) 99
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 10
4. Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 27
5. Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 41
6. CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 9
7. Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) 44
8. Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) (vice-capt) 90
16. Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 55
17. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 61
18. Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 5
19. Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 7
20. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 4
21. Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht) 8
22. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Leinster) 2
23. Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster) 27