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)
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