Sunday 15 September 2019

Joe Schmidt set to recall big guns but Rob Kearney is likely to lose fitness battle

Jonathan Sexton during Ireland rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth
Jonathan Sexton during Ireland rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Joe Schmidt looks set to recall a host of his biggest names for Saturday's clash with Argentina when he announces his team this lunchtime.

Having left a slew of senior men in Ireland as a largely second-string team beat Italy in Chicago last weekend, the head coach is primed to name close to his strongest side for the first game of the Guinness Series at the Aviva Stadium.

Rob Kearney is expected to miss out with a shoulder injury, but Johnny Sexton, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson are among the players set to be pressed into action for the first time this month.

There was speculation last night that English-born Ulster star Will Addison could wear the No 15 shirt in Kearney's absence, after making his debut last weekend, but he faces stiff competition from Jordan Larmour and Andrew Conway.

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Kieran Marmion is set to partner Johnny Sexton at half-back, while Leinster pair Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose are poised to partner up in the midfield.

Schmidt is expected to name a front-row of Jack McGrath, captain Best and Furlong, while there is a battle to start in the second-row with Iain Henderson and James Ryan likely to get the nod, with Devin Toner and Tadhg Beirne pushing hard for selection.

In the back-row, Seán O'Brien looks likely to join Munster pair Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander on his return to international action.

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The Tullow native's last Ireland appearance came against the same opposition at the end of the November window a year ago.

Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma will also name his team today.

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