Ireland name Heaslip as skipper
November 8, 2012
Jamie Heaslip will become Ireland's 101st captain © Getty Images
No.8 Jamie Heaslip will captain Ireland against South Africa on Saturday with Richardt Strauss poised to make his debut.
The Leinster back-rower will skipper the country for the first time and in the process will become their 101st captain. He is filling the void left by the injured Brian O'Driscoll with fellow sidelined duo Rory Best and Paul O'Connell also previously in the mix to take the captain's armband.
And Heaslip admits it was a great surprise that he was to be named captain. "I was getting my mate an engagement card when I got the heads up from Declan about it," he said. "I was in Tesco and I didn't know what to do with myself. I felt like going out and celebrating. It felt like my first cap again.
"I received a text from Mick Dawson [Leinster chief executive] about my record, so no pressure there! It's great. I rang my parents straight away and I'm humbled by the decision. I'm proud to lead this group.
"Once we get on to the pitch everyone will be on automatic pilot because we have such great leaders within the team. It's talking after the dinner that's got me more nervous than anything else."
The team shows a raft of changes from the one that last pulled on the green jersey of Ireland in their heavy 60-0 defeat to the All Blacks. In total coach Declan Kidney has changed eight personnel for Saturday's match.
In the front-row Cian Healy packs down alongside debutant Strauss and Mike Ross. Connacht's Mike McCarthy fills in for Dan Tuohy at lock with Chris Henry getting the nod at openside in what will be his third appearance for Ireland. Heaslip skippers the side from No.8 while Peter O'Mahony, who started against the Kiwis in that position, shifts to blindside.
Kidney has opted to keep the same half-back combination that lost to the All Blacks with Munster's Conor Murray partnering Jonathan Sexton but has named a new pair of centres with Gordon D'Arcy lining up alongside Keith Earls. And there is a new-look back three with Tommy Bowe partnered on the flanks by his Ulster team-mate Andrew Trimble. At fullback, Munster's Simon Zebo starts just his second Test for Ireland and his first in the No.15 shirt.
Among the replacements, forwards David Kilcoyne, Michael Bent and Iain Henderson are all in line to make their international debuts should they be called into the game.
Ireland team to play South Africa:
Simon Zebo, Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Gordon D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Mike McCarthy, Peter O'Mahony, Chris Henry, Jamie Heaslip (captain)
Replacements: Sean Cronin, David Kilcoyne, Michael Bent, Donnacha O'Callaghan, Iain Henderson, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O'Gara, Fergus McFadden
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