Sexton lines up against Fiji
November 17, 2009
Gordon D'Arcy returns to the Ireland side © Getty Images
Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton will make his Ireland debut against Fiji at the RDS on Saturday in one of eight changes from the side that scrapped to a 20-20 draw with Australia at Croke Park.
Sexton is joined in the starting line-up by his provincial skipper Leo Cullen, who will win his first cap since June 2007 in the second-row alongside Paul O'Connell, and scrum-half Eoin Reddan.
Veteran wing Shane Horgan also returns to the Test side after captaining Ireland 'A' to victory over Tonga last weekend and Keith Earls is handed a start on the opposite wing. Both players will want to impress following an unfortunate long-term injury to incumbent wing Luke Fitzgerald.
Tom Court replaces Cian Healy at loose-head as the Leinster prop has a shoulder injury. Denis Leamy starts on the openside in an otherwise unchanged back-row. Gordon D'Arcy starts alongside Brian O'Driscoll in the centre.
Fiji have called Gloucester flanker Apo Satala in to their side. Satala joins fellow Gloucester flanker Akapusi Qera in the back-row, behind London Welsh lock Wame Lewaravu. Saracens scrum-half Moses Rauluni starts in the No.9 jersey alongside Bath playmaker Nicky Little.
A classy centre combination brings Toulon's Gabriele Lovobalavu and Clermont Auvergne's Seremaia Bai together and Brive's Norman Ligairi is recalled at fullback. Ulster wing Timoci Nagusa is handed a place on the bench. There is no place for Scarlets prop Deacon Manu, with Viliame Seuseu, Viliame Veikoso and Asaike Tarogi forming a new front-row.
Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); S Horgan (Leinster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster); T Court (Ulster), J Flannery (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), L Cullen (Leinster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Leamy (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster)
Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Buckley (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster) S O'Brien (Leinster), T O'Leary (Munster), P Wallace (Ulster) A Trimble (Ulster)
Fiji: N Ligairi (Brive); V Goneva (Vaturu), G Lovobalavu (Toulon), S Baikeinuku (ASM Clermont), N Roko (Yokogawa); N Little (Bath), M Rauluni (Saracens); A Tarogi (Suva Highlanders), V Veikoso (Mavoci), V Seuseu (Korovuto), W Lewaravu (London Welsh), I Rawaqa (Fighting Bulls), A Satala (Gloucester), A Qera (Gloucester), A Boko (Tau)
Replacements: I Ledua (FTG), G Dewes (Esher), L Nakarawa (Army), S Bola (Police), W Vatuvoka (Duavata), J Matavesi (Exeter Chiefs), T Nagusa (Ulster).
"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
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin