DECLAN KIDNEY has restored Eoin Reddan to his starting XV ahead of Ireland’s crucial Rugby World Cup clash against Australia in Auckland this Saturday.
Reddan comes in in place of Conor Murray, who had earned only his third-ever cap in Ireland’s underwhelming victory over the United States last week.
Reddan resumes his midfield partnership with Leinster teammate Jonathan Sexton, who is preferred over Ronan O’Gara despite a wobbly performance with the boot in the 22-10 victory over the United States.
Elsewhere, Rob Kearney returns to the side at full-back – with Geordan Murphy not even taking a place in the matchday squad of 22. The rest of the back-line remains as it was, with Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy in the centre, flanked by Keith Earls and Tommy Bowe.
In the forwards, Cian Healy – who sat out last week’s game after an injury to his eye socket – returns to the front row, with Ulster’s Tom Court demoted to the replacements’ bench.
Rory Best, who scored the second of Ireland’s three tries in Sunday’s win, is retained at hooker – with Jerry Flannery having picked up an injury to his calf in training yesterday, though the Munster man still makes the bench.
Mike Ross retains the number 3 shirt, with Sean O’Brien coming in at flanker; Shane Jennings, who had started against the US Eagles, does not feature.
Ireland (v Australia, Saturday, kick-off 9:30am Irish time)
Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross; Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell; Stephen Ferris, Seán O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Jerry Flannery, Tom Court, Donnacha Ryan, Denis Leamy, Conor Murray, Ronan O’Gara, Andrew Trimble.