Confirmed: Joey Carbery starts at out-half as Ireland make six changes for Australia clash
JOE SCHMIDT has confirmed that Joey Carbery will start Ireland’s first Test against Australia.
The head coach named 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 who is on the bench.
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 Sean Cronin are also omitted in a selection that comes as a surprise 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 and handing out opportunities 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 experienced backline with Robbie Henshaw replacing Ringrose in the only only change behind the scrum from the team that started the final Six Nations game against Twickenham.
Schmidt was quick to praise the 22-year-old’s recent performances during Leinster’s run-in and is very much aware of the need to get him high level game-time.
Michael Cheika named his team to face Ireland earlier this morning, with David Pocock back from his international hiatus at blindside flanker and two starting debutants in No 8 Caleb Timu and hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa.
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 who was Furlong’s back-up during the Six Nations.
Rob Herring steps into Rory Best’s boots at hooker ahead of Cronin and Niall Scannell and the vastly experienced Jack McGrath swaps the No 1 shirt with Cian Healy once again.
Schmidt has named Healy, Cronin and Furlong on the bench, with Quinn Roux covering second-row and Jack Conan the reserve back-row.
Sexton is joined by Kieran Marmion and Jordan Larmour covering the backs.
15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Joey Carbery
9. Conor Murray
1. Jack McGrath
2. Rob Herring
3. John Ryan
4. Iain Henderson
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O'Mahony (C)
7. Jordi Murphy
8. CJ Stander
16. Sean Cronin
17. Cian Healy
18. Tadhg Furlong
19. Quinn Roux
20. Jack Conan
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Johnny Sexton
23. Jordan Larmour