Kidney rings the changes
September 23, 2011
Leinster lock Leo Cullen will skipper Ireland in Rotorua this weekend © Getty Images
Leo Cullen has been handed the captain's armband for Ireland's Rugby World Cup Pool C meeting with Russia in Rotorua, with head coach Declan Kidney having decided to rest a number of key players following their stunning win over the Wallabies last weekend.
With Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell among those to have been given the weekend off following their heroics in Auckland, Cullen, who replaces the latter in the second-row, is the unsurprising choice to lead an Irish side which shows eight changes in personnel form the side which upset the Aussies.
Elsewhere in the pack, Donnacha Ryan replaces Stephen Ferries at blindside flanker, while hooker Sean Cronin and tight-head prop Tony Buckley come into the front-row in place of Rory Best and Mike Ross.
In the backs, Keith Earls moves infield fills the void left by O'Driscoll at outside centre and the Munster ace will be joined in midfield by Paddy Wallace, who takes over at No.12 from Gordon D'Arcy. Earls' redeployment creates space on the left wing for Andrew Trimble. There is also a first tournament start on the opposite flank for Fergus McFadden, with Rob Kearney retaining his berth at fullback.
Ronan O'Gara, who came on and kicked three penalties in the win over the Wallabies, reclaims the No.10 jersey from Jonathan Sexton and he will have Isaac Boss for company in the half-backs, with Eoin Reddan having been demoted to the bench.
Ireland: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Keith Earls, Paddy Wallace, Andrew Trimble; Ronan O'Gara, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tony Buckley; Donncha O'Callaghan, Leo Cullen (capt); Donnacha Ryan, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Rory Best, Mike Ross, Denis Leamy, Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Geordan Murphy.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham