Sexton to make Ireland debut
November 17, 2009
Jonathan Sexton will make his international debut on Saturday © 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.
"We talked about building a squad and that's what we're trying to do," said head coach Declan Kidney. "A lot of the guys getting a go in this team have not played for Ireland for some time. You have to show belief in your squad and that's what we've done with the team we've selected."
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)
"New Zealand-born Joe Schmidt has forged the Irish into a street-smart, well- prepared side," John Mitchell on the Irish renaissance
"I am bored of hearing 'I can't fault the effort'. Let us take that for granted and look for some quality." John Taylor writes
Reports comparing the 2014 Wallabies with their rabble-like predecessors of 2005 are unfair and self-serving, Greg Growden reports
Wales did the All Blacks a favour with their best effort against New Zealand for many years, for 68 minutes at Millennium Stadium, Craig Dowd writes