Ireland captain benched

Thu, 07 Nov 2013 14:11
Large jamie heaslip ireland Large john plumtree   paul o conn

Paul O'Connell has been named as Ireland captain, but will play off the bench in their one-off Test against Samoa in Dublin on Saturday.

Paul O'Connell has been named as Ireland captain, but will play off the bench in their one-off Test against Samoa in Dublin on Saturday.

Vice-captain Jamie Heaslip will lead the team out in their first Test of Ireland's November campaign.

Leinster loosehead prop Jack McGrath will earn his first senior cap against the powerful Samoans, while Dave Kearney could also earn a first cap for Ireland as he starts on the bench.

There are six 2013 British and Irish Lions in the starting XV - Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll, Conor Murray, Jamie Heaslip and Rory Best - and a further three Lions tourists (Cian Healy, Paul O'Connell and Sean O'Brien) among the replacements.

New Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has decided not to risk starting any players who've had a fractured preparatory period because of injury issues - which is why O'Connell, Cian Healy and Sean O'Brien are included in the replacements.

McGrath has excelled for Leinster this season, scoring two tries, and producing a consistent quality in terms of his performances.

He won the man of the match award against the Ospreys when he acquitted himself very capably against the Lions and Wales tighthead prop Adam Jones.

Paddy Jackson is preferred to Ian Madigan at flyhalf, the Ulster pivot benefiting from more game time so far this season, and in being chosen for his fifth cap, reverses the pecking order from the mid-year tour to North America.

Jackson is expected to assume the place-kicking duties.

McFadden beats his teammate - and the only other uncapped member of the match day squad - Dave Kearney to the left wing berth.

Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy renew their record breaking centre partnership.

Devin Toner will win his eighth cap, partnering Mike McCarthy in the second row, while Henry will make his ninth appearance for the national side.

Schmidt has elected not to take risks and that means that Matt Sexton's hip flexor stiffness, and the forthcoming Tests against Australia and New Zealand, sees him sit out this weekend.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7 Chris Henry, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Mike McCarthy, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Paul O'Connell, 20 Sean O'Brien, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Dave Kearney.

Date: Saturday, November 9
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 17.45 (17.45 GMT; 07.45, Sunday, November 10 Samoa time)
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Luke Pearce (England)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (Italy)