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Mads bid given kiss of life

Ireland interim coach Les Kiss has given Ian Madigan the first shot in his dual with Paddy Jackson for what is a one-on-one battle to become Jonathan Sexton's back-up out-half for next season.

It is the first sign that Kiss and Joe Schmidt hold a different opinion to that of former Ireland coach Declan Kidney about the present merit of both playmakers.

Kiss has also ordained Connacht full-back Robbie Henshaw and Ulster centre Stuart Olding with their first caps at what is expected to be a hot and humid Houston this evening.

The lightning rise to prominence of Henshaw and Olding can be measured by the simple fact that they would have started the season with the goal of playing for Ireland, not in Houston, but in the Under 20 World Cup.

It is a testament to their accelerated progress that they have taken the eye of Kiss and Ireland's incoming head coach Schmidt this season.

"Absolutely thrilled with it! I am just delighted to be picked for this tour and get my first cap. I am over the moon," said Henshaw.

"I just can't wait to get out onto the pitch and get going. This time last year I was sitting English 2 in the Leaving Cert. It has been a bit of a rapid development.

"I want to keep my head down and keep improving. That is my main goal," he said.


Ulster Olding has benefitted from Luke Marshall's multiple concussions to take his chance with both hands, first, for his province and, now, for his country.

"I am very excited with it when Les let me know I was getting a start. I have been waiting for this for my whole life," said Olding.

"It is a dream come true to have this opportunity. I thought I would have a few more years until I would have this. It has been a whirlwind season for me."

In addition, Leinster's Madigan, Munster's Dave Kilcoyne and Ulster's Iain Henderson will start a senior international for the first time – with Munster's Tommy O'Donnell and Mike Sherry and Leinster's Jamie Hagan, on his way to London Irish, all set to join them off the bench.

"This is a young team with five players starting for the first time and we are under no illusions as to the challenge posed by an experienced and improving USA Eagles team," said Kiss.

The standout area for the Eagles is their back row with Northampton Saint Samu Manoa, Stade Francais's Scott La Valla, formerly of Trinity College, and captain Todd Clever.


It doesn't end there, Saracen Chris Wyles will be at full-back, Biarritz flyer Taku Ngwenya on the left wing with the experience of Mike Petri at scrum-half.

"I think they bring a lot of veteran leadership. That's important," said coach Mike Tolkin.

"This squad introduces veterans and pros back into the system and they're great athletes that bring fresh, new energy. They exude confidence and it resonates within the squad".

Ireland have been warned.

USA: C Wyles; L Hume, S Kelly, A Suniula, T Ngwenya; T L'Estrange, M Petri; S Pittman, C Biller, E Fry, B Doyle, L Stanfill, S Manoa, S La Valla, T Clever (capt).

IRELAND: R Henshaw; F McFadden, D Cave, S Olding, S Zebo; I Madigan, I Boss; D Kilcoyne, R Strauss, M Ross, M McCarthy, D Toner, I Henderson, C Henry, P O'Mahony (capt).