Monday 18 December 2017

Joe Schmidt has made four changes to his starting XV for clash with the Wallabies

Garry Ringrose and Paddy Jackson start against the Australians
Garry Ringrose and Paddy Jackson start against the Australians
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Joe Schmidt has made four changes to the Ireland starting XV who lost to New Zealand last week as Garry Ringrose, Keith Earls, Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson are included to play Australia on Saturday.

Ringrose who made his debut against Canada two weeks ago will partner Jared Payne in a new-look midfield after Robbie Henshaw (concussion) was ruled out.

Earls is handed a recall after he impressed against Canada with his Munster teammate Zebo dropped to the bench.

A hamstring injury had ruled Johnny Sexton out of the Wallabies clash early in the week so as expected, Jackson is named at out-half with Joey Carbery amongst the replacements.

Up front, Henderson will start his first game of the November series after he missed the first two games with a shoulder injury. The Ulster player came off the bench last weekend and he replaces Donnacha Ryan who misses out completely. Ultan Dillane provides the second-row cover.

Rob Kearney and CJ Stander both passed their return to play protocols and are fit enough to take their place in the team.

The front-row is unchanged with captain Rory Best packing down alongside Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong while the back-row also has a familiar look to it with Stander, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip. Josh van der Flier will again be expected to provide an impact from the bench.

Earlier this morning, Michael Cheika recalled his big guns with Israel Folau, Sekope Kepu, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge and Rory Arnold all restored to Australia’s starting line up.

Former Leinster second-row Kane Douglas starts on the bench alongside Quade Cooper who misses out to the inform Bernard Foley.

Ireland boss Schmidt insisted Ringrose's performance under pressure at inside centre last weekend against the All Blacks had won the young gun another chance to impress in the 12 shirt.

"Really it's a reflection of his performance last week," said Schmidt. "I thought Garry stepped in and did incredibly well against New Zealand.

"He slipped a couple of tackles, got one line break and almost got another couple, and he was among our top tacklers.

"So it's another opportunity to invest in Garry.

"He's been in camp with us for a year and a half at different times, and he's been a bit of a long-term investment, that we want to take this opportunity to develop a bit further."

Schmidt conceded Ireland lost some of their attacking stability against New Zealand on Saturday once Henshaw and Sexton went off injured.

But the former Leinster boss remains adamant one more week working together will hand Jackson, Ringrose and Jared Payne the confidence to run a seamless offensive game.

"We lost our shape at points last week, it was quite difficult with those changes," said Schmidt.

"Sometimes you create chances but if you don't have leadership then you don't tend to have cohesion, and guys aren't then in the right place at the right time.

"Robbie Henshaw was an absolutely stand-out player for us in Chicago.

"And not having him for the majority of Saturday's match probably didn't allow us quite so much robustness through the midfield.

"And not having Johnny (Sexton) didn't quite give us the same kind of organisation.

"Not that Paddy Jackson can't do that, we saw in South Africa in the summer that he can, but he hadn't had nearly as much time in the saddle recently as Johnny.

"So what we're hoping is that they've had a bit of game time together last week, and we've had training since, and hopefully those guys can get a bit of confidence from that.

"And hopefully that confidence can be reflected in the performance we put together on Saturday."


Ireland - R Kearney; A Trimble, J Payne, G Ringrose, K Earls; P Jackson, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, T Furlong; I Henderson, D Toner; CJ Stander, S O’Brien, J Heaslip. Reps: S Cronin, C Healy, F Bealham, U Dillane, J van der Flier, K Marmion, J Carbery, S Zebo.

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