Joe Schmidt has announced an Ireland side featuring four Ulstermen to take the field against South Africa on Saturday.
Rory Best captains the side from hooker while Jacob Stockdale has been rewarded for his fine start to the season with a wing position. Iain Henderson starts in the second row while Rob Herring is Best’s replacement on the bench.
Bundee Aki and Darren Sweetnam are set to make their debuts in an Irish jersey. The inclusion of Aki has caused some controversy in the Irish press recently, but the Connacht-man is named at inside centre. Sweetnam starts as a replacement.
Cian Healy starts instead of Jack McGrath while Tadhg Furlong starts at tighthead. Devin Toner partners Iain Henderson in the second row while the back row consists of Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and CJ Stander.
It’s the usual half back pairing of Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton while Robbie Henshaw moves to the outside centre channel to accommodate the inclusion of Bundee Aki. Andrew Conway and Rob Kearney join Stockdale in Ireland’s back three.
South Africa finished just a point behind second placed side Australia in the most recent edition of the Rugby Championship and were thumped 57-0 by New Zealand in Auckland and the Boks have been somewhat hit and miss in recent times. Despite comfortably defeating France in all three test matches during the summer, they failed to challenge the All Blacks for the Rugby Championship crown.
A strong Springbok side arrives in Ireland for the Dublin duel. Ireland’s lineout will be tested with the inclusion of their 6ft 6 captain Eben Etzebeth and 6ft 7 Lood de Jager however we saw the impact Devin Toner could have at set piece when his province travelled to Belfast last month. South Africa’s backs contain four members of the Lions team which reached the Super Rugby final in August.
Matches against South Africa are usually tough forward battles and I don’t see Saturday’s match being any different. The IRFU’s recent dialogue with World Rugby over RWC2023 and the open criticism of the South African bid, the Springboks will certainly be looking for some revenge.
The FRU predicts: A predictably tight match but one that Ireland should win. It’s the perfect match for Jacob Stockdale to announce himself on the world’s stage.
|Rob Kearney||15||Andries Coetzee|
|Andrew Conway||14||Dillyn Leyds|
|Robbie Henshaw||13||Jesse Kriel|
|Bundee Aki*||12||Damian de Allende|
|Jacob Stockdale||11||Courtnall Skosan|
|Johnny Sexton||10||Elton Jantjies|
|Conor Murray||9||Ross Cronje|
|Cian Healy||1||Francois Louw|
|Rory Best ©||2||Pieter-Steph du Toit|
|Tadhg Furlong||3||Siya Kolisi|
|Iain Henderson||4||Lood de Jager|
|Devin Toner||5||Eben Etzebeth ©|
|Peter O’Mahony||6||Coenie Oosthuizen|
|Sean O’Brien||7||Malcolm Marx|
|CJ Stander||8||Tendai Mtawarira|
|Rob Herring||16||Bongi Mbonambi|
|Dave Kilcoyne||17||Steven Kitshoff|
|John Ryan||18||Wilco Louw|
|James Ryan||19||Franco Mostert|
|Rhys Ruddock||20||Uzair Cassiem|
|Kieran Marmion||21||Rudy Paige|
|Joey Carbery||22||Handré Pollard|
|Darren Sweetnam*||23||Francois Venter|
* New cap