Carbery gets chance as O'Mahony to lead Ireland
Joe Schmidt is set to start Joey Carbery for Ireland's first Test against Australia in a surprise move.
The head coach last night prepared to name Peter O'Mahony as captain for the Brisbane opener as he makes six changes from the team that beat England on St Patrick's Day and eases the load of a number of the front-line Leinster players including Johnny Sexton.
As well as the out-half and skipper Rory Best, who didn't tour due to a hamstring problem, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Garry Ringrose and Dan Leavy miss out, while Devin Toner and Seán Cronin are also omitted in a selection that will come as a shock to the Wallabies.
Schmidt was always expected to rotate his team during this three Test tour, but leaving such high-calibre players out of the Brisbane opener could be interpreted as a risky move. Two years ago, he went with his strongest possible side for the series opener in South Africa, before making changes in the second Test and rotating again in the third.
Carbery was always expected to start one of the three games in the three-Test series, but it is a surprise to see him in the No 10 shirt for the Brisbane opener.
However, Schmidt has offered the Munster-bound out-half the chance to play in an otherwise close-to-first-choice backline with Robbie Henshaw replacing Ringrose in the only change from the team that started in Twickenham.
Schmidt was quick to praise the 22-year-old's performances during Leinster's run-in and is very much aware of the need to get him high level game-time.
The selection is subject to everyone coming through the team's training session at their Gold Coast base overnight, with the coach due to name his team at 7am this morning in Brisbane. Michael Cheika names his Australia team at 5am and is expected to include hooker Tolu Latu in his 23 despite only calling up the four-times-capped player yesterday.
Co-captain on tour along with Sexton, O'Mahony has plenty of leadership experience with Munster, Ireland and the Lions and lines up alongside Jordi Murphy and CJ Stander.
Like Murphy, James Ryan is tasked with going again alongside the recovered Iain Henderson, while Schmidt is believed to have opted to start Munster's John Ryan ahead of Andrew Porter.
Possible Ireland team v Australia: R Kearney; K Earls, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Carbery, C Murray; J McGrath, R Herring, John Ryan; I Henderson, James Ryan; P O'Mahony (capt), J Murphy, CJ Stander.