Earls starts on the wing for Ireland’s World Cup opener

Colm Kinsella

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella

Keith Earls starts on the left wing for Ireland's World Cup opener with Canada at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, 2.30pm
MUNSTER’S Keith Earls has been named on the left wing in Ireland’s starting XV to face Canada in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup opener at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

MUNSTER’S Keith Earls has been named on the left wing in Ireland’s starting XV to face Canada in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup opener at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Twenty seven-year-old Limerickman Earls will win his 42nd cap in the Pool D clash. The Young Munster man is preferred on the left wing to his Munster team mate Simon Zebo. Ulster’s Tommy Bowe misses out on a place in the match-day squad.

With centre Robbie Henshaw picking up a hamstring injury in training earlier this week, Luke Fitzgerald comes into the side at inside-centre.

Irish captain Paul O’Connell, who will win his 105th cap on Saturday, is partnered in the second row by Ulster’s Iain Henderson.

Munster scrum-half Conor Murray and Leinster full-back Rob Kearney are passed fit to play as coach Joe Schmidt names a very strong team to face the minnows.

Munster’s Donnacha Ryan has been given the nod on the bench ahead of Devin Toner, given his ability to cover flanker as well as second row.

Cian Healy, who was only declared fit for the tournament this week after recovering from a neck injury, is among the replacements as Jack McGrath starts at loose-head prop.

IRELAND v CANADA: Rob Kearney; Dave Kearney, Jared Payne, Luke Fitzgerald, Keith Earls; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Mike Ross; Iain Henderson, Paul O’Connell (capt); Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Nathan White, Donnacha Ryan, Chris Henry, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Simon Zebo.