Earls returns to Ireland team for Australia test

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent


Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent



Earls returns to Ireland team for Australia test

KEITH Earls returns to Ireland’s starting line-up for Saturda's final autumn international against Australia at the Aviva Stadium, 5.30pm.

Earls is included on the left wing where he replaces his Munster team mate Simon Zebo, who is listed among the replacements.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said: “Simon Zebo was very sore after the (New Zealand) game.

"He’s taken two or three days and trained today, but probably didn’t train flat out, he’s still got another 48 hours to recover and we’re hoping he’ll be 100% by Saturday.

"With that little bit of lingering doubt, Keith Earls brings a freshness to the group and hopefully that will add a bit of vitality.

"Also Keith’s roundly experienced and gives us a bit of midfield cover should we need so that versatility is not too bad to have."

Three Munster players have been included by Schmidt in his starting line-up to take on Michael Cheika’s Wallabies.

Joining Earls in the team is Munster scrum-half Conor Murray and flanker CJ Stander.

In all, there are four changes to the side that started last week's bruising game against New Zealand.  

Garry Ringrose and Paddy Jackson start in place of the injured Robbie Henshaw and Johnny Sexton while Iain Henderson starts in the second row and Earls on the wing.

Munster’s Donnacha Ryan who started last week’s 21-9 defeat to New Zealand in the second row is not included in the squad to fave Australia.

Limerick’s Sean Cronin, of Leinster, is named as replacement hooker to face the in-form Wallabies this weekend.

Ulster’s Rory Best captains the side on his 100th appearance in green. Best joins an illustrious list of centurions alongside Paul O'Connell, Ronan O'Gara, John Hayes and Brian O’Driscoll.

IRELAND: Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Garry Ringrose, Keith Earls, Paddy Jackson, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best (capt), Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Joey Carbery, Simon Zebo.

AUSTRALIA: Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Reece Hodge, Henry Speight, Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, Rory Arnold, Rob Simmons, Dean Mumm, Michael Hooper, David Pocock. Replacements: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Allan Alaalatoa, Kane Douglas, Lopeti Timani, Sean McMahon, Nick Phipps, Quade Cooper, Sefanaia Naivalu.