Mike Ross misses out as Schmidt rings the changes for second Test against South Africa
Joe Schmidt has dropped Mike Ross from his match-day 23 as the Ireland coach rings the changes for the second Test against South Africa.
The 36-year-old tighthead prop has been a stalwart of Schmidt’s throughout his time in charge, but the New Zealander has opted for Tadhg Furlong.
The Wexford man has been handed a huge opportunity to go head to head with Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira as Ireland go in search of a series win in Johannesburg.
The coach has made another big call by including Quinn Roux from the start as the South African-born Connacht lock makes his debut against his home country.
Roux had been a surprise inclusion in the touring squad having finished the season out of favour at Connacht, but his ability as a scrummaging tighthead lock sees him support Furlong’s efforts.
The Pretoria native’s inclusion means Iain Henderson shifts to blindside flanker as Rhys Ruddock replaces Jordi Murphy at openside forward.
Craig Gilroy comes in
Finlay Bealham’s superior dynamism sees him edge Ross on the bench, as Schmidt also makes changes to his backline as Ulster pair Stuart Olding and Craig Gilroy come in for Luke Marshall and Keith Earls.
There are also changes on the bench, with all seven players selected as replacements ready to have their first involvement on tour.
Richardt Strauss comes in for the luckless Sean Cronin who had a big impact off the bench in the first Test, while Dave Kilcoyne and Bealham cover the props.
Donnacha Ryan covers the second-row, while New Zealand-born Sean Reidy, who qualifies through a grandfather from Kerry, is likely to make his Ireland debut.
Connacht’s Tiernan O’Halloran could also make his international debut off the bench, while Kieran Marmion and Ian Madigan again cover the half-backs after remaining on the sidelines throughout the 26-20 win at Newlands.
South Africa, meanwhile, have made just two enforced changes to their team for the second Test as Elton Jantjes replaces the injured Pat Lambie and Pieter-Steph du Toit comes in for Lood de Jager in the second-row.
“It is a big day for Tadhg, I know that he and Quinn and Iain Henderson on that axis on the scrum, work hard to be as combative as possible,” Schmidt said.
“He has spent a huge amount of time with us, he was at the World Cup and then for the season. It’s a huge ask for him, we wouldn’t do it if we weren’t confident he could step up.
“Finlay’s played a lot of tighthead for us at training, as well as looshead. He has played a lot of tighthead for Connacht and has probably pushed his way past Rodney Ah You.”
Teams for Saturday’s second Test in Johannesburg (4pm):
SOUTH AFRICA – Willie le Roux; JP Pietersen, Lionel Mapoe, Damian De Allende, Lwazi Mvovo; Elton Jantjes, Faf de Klerk; Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Frans Malherbe; Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit; Francois Louw, Siya Kolisi, Duane Vermeulen. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Julian Redelinghuys, Franco Mostert, Warren Whiteley, Rudy Paige, Morne Steyn, Ruan Combrinck.
IRELAND – Jared Payne; Andrew Trimble, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart Olding, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best (capt), Tadhg Furlong; D Toner, Quinn Roux; Iain Henderson, Rhys Ruddock, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Donnacha Ryan, Sean Reidy, Kieran Marmion, Ian Madigan, Tiernan O’Halloran.