Saturday 22 September 2018

Sean Cronin and Jack Conan handed final Test chance as Joe Schmidt makes five changes for Australia decider

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt arrives prior to the 2018 Mitsubishi Estate Ireland Series 2nd Test match between Australia and Ireland at AAMI Park, in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt arrives prior to the 2018 Mitsubishi Estate Ireland Series 2nd Test match between Australia and Ireland at AAMI Park, in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Joe Schmidt has recalled Sean Cronin to his starting XV for Saturday’s series decider against Australia.

The Ireland coach made five changes to his team for the Sydney clash, with Jacob Stockdale, Bundee Aki and Jack McGrath return to the team after starting the first Test, while Cronin and Jack Conan are drafted in.

Cronin was on the bench for the first Test, but was surprisingly omitted from the Melbourne win and watched from the stands as Niall Scannell and Rob Herring did well in his absence.

Amid concerns over his size and scrummaging ability, the Leinster star will see this as a big chance to prove his doubters wrong.

Read more: Joe Schmidt challenges Sean Cronin to prove his scrummaging mettle after recalling hooker for Wallabies decider

Likewise for Conan who starts at No 8 after sitting out the two Tests to date. His inclusion brings about a back-row reshuffle, Peter O’Mahony moves to openside for the first time in an international. CJ Stander is on the blindside after Dan Leavy failed to recover from the sternum injury that forced him off last week.

Andrew Conway (hip), Garry Ringrose (foot) and Iain Henderson (knee) have also failed to recover from their issues, while Cian Healy is fit enough to take his place among the replacements.

Leinster’s Ross Byrne is in line for his debut off the bench which means Schmidt has included all of his touring squad over the course of the three Tests.

A foot injury sees Ringrose miss out, so Robbie Henshaw shifts to outside centre with Aki back in the No 12 shirt.

Australia coach Michael Cheika has made two changes to his team, with Nick Phipps replacing the injured Will Genia and flanker Lukhan Tui coming in for Caleb Timu has lost his place in the match-day squad as Ned Hanigan comes on to the bench.

Australia – I Folau; D Haylett-Petty, S Kerevi, K Beale, M Koroibete; B Foley, N Phipps; S Sio, B Paenga-Amosa, S Kepu; I Rodda, A Coleman; L Tui, M Hooper, D Pocock. Reps: T Latu, T  Robertson, T Tupou, R Simmons, N Hanigan, P Samu, J Powell, R Hodge.

IRELAND – R Kearney; K Earls, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, S Cronin, T Furlong; D Toner, James Ryan; CJ Stander, P O’Mahony (capt), J Conan. Reps: N Scannell, C Healy, John Ryan, T Beirne, J Murphy, K Marmion, R Byrne, J Larmour.

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