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Cooney To Make First Start For Much-Changed Ireland

Cooney To Make First Start For Much-Changed Ireland

Centre Garry Ringrose is the only player retained in the Ireland team to play the USA in Saturday’s GUINNESS Series finale at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 6.30pm). The new-look squad is captained by Rhys Ruddock and includes one uncapped player in Sam Arnold.

Garry Ringrose is joined in midfield by Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey who wins his third cap and first since the Fiji match last November, while Joey Carbery, Iain Henderson, Jordi Murphy, Cian Healy, Josh van der Flier and Luke McGrath, who all played against New Zealand, are also included in the matchday 23.

Carbery is partnered at half-back by John Cooney, one of five Ulster players in the starting XV. It will be Cooney’s first start and home debut, while Will Addison gets the nod at full-back for his third cap this month – he came off the bench against Italy and started against Argentina, deputising as a late replacement for Robbie Henshaw.

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Andrew Conway and Darren Sweetnam complete the back-three, with the Corkman coming in for his first international appearance since touching down against Fiji a year ago. Likewise, Sweetnam’s Munster colleague Dave Kilcoyne will be looking to impress at loosehead prop, a full three years on from his most recent start in the green jersey.

It is a first start in two years for Connacht’s in-form tighthead Finlay Bealham, who slots in beside hooker Niall Scannell, and a second start and home debut for Kildare man Tadhg Beirne. The scorer of two tries against Italy, he links up with Iain Henderson in an athletic back row pairing.

Rhys Ruddock, who captains his country for the sixth time, is joined in the back row by the aforementioned Murphy and number 8 Jack Conan, whose most recent start was in Chicago three weeks ago. Ruddock has a 100% winning record as skipper thanks to victories over the USA, Japan (2), Fiji and Italy.

Sam Arnold at Ireland training

Munster centre Sam Arnold, who came through the Exiles pathway which is now the IQ Rugby programme, is set to win his first cap off the bench. The selected replacements also includes Rob Herring, Healy, John Ryan, Quinn Roux, van der Flier, McGrath and Ross Byrne, who is poised for his second cap and home debut.

IRELAND Team & Replacements (v USA, 2018 GUINNESS Series Test Match, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, November 24, kick-off 6.30pm):

Player/Club/Province/Caps –

15. Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) 2
14. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 8
13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 16
12. Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/Ulster) 2
11. Darren Sweetnam (Cork Constitution/Munster) 2
10. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 15
9. John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 3
1. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 23
2. Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 10
3. Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 8
4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 3
5. Iain Henderson (Queen’s University/Ulster) 41
6. Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 20 (capt)
7. Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 25
8. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 10


16. Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 6
17. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 83
18. John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 15
19. Quinn Roux (Galwegians/Connacht) 7
20. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 12
21. Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 9
22. Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 1
23. Sam Arnold (Garryowen/Munster) *

* Denotes uncapped player