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Henshaw and Olding to start against US


New Ireland cap Robbie Henshaw. Picture: Sportsfile

New Ireland cap Robbie Henshaw. Picture: Sportsfile

New Ireland cap Robbie Henshaw. Picture: Sportsfile

IRELAND interim coach Les Kiss has handed debuts to Robbie Henshaw and Stuart Olding for the match against the United States Eagles – with three new faces ready to win their first caps off the bench.

The Australian has put his faith in youth by making Connacht youngster Henshaw a full international at 19, meaning he becomes the fourth teenager to play for Ireland in the professional age after Gordon D'Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald and Rhys Ruddock.

Kiss has opted for Leinster fly-half Ian Madigan ahead of Ulster's Paddy Jackson in tomorrow's Houston contest, with the 24-year-old making his first start in the number 10 jersey for his country.

Olding, meanwhile, is handed his first cap after just 15 appearances for Ulster and is just three months older than Henshaw.

The Belfast Harlequins man finished the season "like a train" according to Kiss, who hands over the reins to Joe Schmidt at the end of this tour to the USA and Canada.

The New Zealander arrives in Houston tomorrow night and will watch from the stands at the BBVA Compass Stadium as Ireland take on a United States side with all their available big guns in the starting line-up.

Coach Mike Tolkin includes Saracens' Chris Wyles at full-back, while Northampton's Samu Manoa is joined by Stade Francais' Scott Lavalla and captain Todd Clever in a formidable back-row.

Kiss expects a physical game from the Americans, but had no hesitation introducing Henshaw and Olding to the international arena, while Tommy O'Donnell, Jamie Hagan and Mike Sherry can all make their debuts off the bench.



He explained: "The tour from the beginning was an opportunity. We have seven uncapped players on tour and Stuart and Robbie have had fantastic seasons.

"They have developed, slowly but surely, and had some great experiences – not only in the Rabo (RaboDirect PRO12) but in the Heineken Cup.

"Robbie was involved in the Six Nations and was there or thereabouts when we had a huge injury rate. He has done exceptionally well in the full-back role. Stuart has come home like a train this season . . . and is deserving of the opportunity."

Both players spoke of their pride on having been named to start for their country for the first time.

Henshaw said: "I was really, really delighted with the start, it is a dream come true for me. It's brilliant. I'd imagine there will be a big step up compared to provincial rugby, but I'm really excited about that and can't wait."

Olding added: "I was over the moon when I heard from Les that I was going to start.

"A start is great, even the bench would have been fantastic. I'm delighted, it will be in front of my parents as well."