Schmidt backs Ireland to upset odds
Joe Schmidt says Ireland are ready to defy the odds by kicking off their three-Test series against South Africa with a win tomorrow.
The bookies have the Springboks as 15-point favourites as a long injury list forces Ireland to go with a new-look backline at Newlands. Jared Payne moves to full-back, with Luke Marshall lining up at inside-centre and Paddy Jackson starting at out-half.
Up front, Iain Henderson returns to the second-row after missing the Six Nations, while Jordi Murphy is given the nod at openside flanker.
South Africa's new coach Allister Coetzee has handed Faf de Klerk his debut at scrum-half and, while there are some unfamiliar faces, he can call on nine players who started the World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand last year.
"I'm sure the bookies have us very much as outsiders and I can see why, but upsets happen and we've got to believe in ourselves that we are capable of doing that," Schmidt said. "It is daunting. When you lose players who have the experience you lose a little bit of that core confidence that players can get on to the front foot with.
"I probably have a little bit of a fear that we'll go into the Test match on the back foot, and you cannot be on the back foot against the South Africans.
"So we've been trying to build the players forward and they're genuinely looking forward to the challenge."