Rugby

Best, D'Arcy start for Ireland

2014-11-20 16:30
Rory Best (AFP Photo)

Maynooth - Veterans Gordon D'Arcy and Rory Best are the only two changes for Six Nations champions Ireland against Australia at Lansdowne Road on Saturday from the one that beat South Africa a fortnight ago.

D'Arcy, who will win his 81st cap, comes in at centre for the injured Jared Payne with hooker Best, who will make his 78th appearance for Ireland, returning to the side after recovering from injury -- Sean Cronin drops to the bench.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt -- who has engineered a turnaround in Irish fortunes since replacing Declan Kidney after the 2013 Six Nations -- opted for the hugely experienced 34-year-old D'Arcy ahead of Stuart Olding despite the latter shining when he came on in the 49-7 victory over Georgia last Sunday.

Schmidt said it would be good for the other centre, 21-year-old Robbie Henshaw who has just four caps, to have D'Arcy's wise head alongside him.

"We were always going to use these November tests as a way of trying out different combinations," said Schmidt, who took over the Leinster job from present Wallabies coach Michael Cheika when he left for French outfit Stade Francais in 2010,

"The Six Nations and the four lead in matches to the World Cup (next year) are not for those type of experiments.

"With regard to Gordon it is nice to have that experience with Robbie.

"Payne while he had not been capped prior to the Springboks game played with several South Africans at Ulster and so could impart his knowledge of them to Robbie.

"It is good to have Robbie with 80 caps of experience alongside him.

"Stuart Olding performed fantastically well in a cameo role when he came on against Georgia (he scored a try and created one) but he hasn't played a lot of rugby in the past year."

Schmidt, who coached Leinster to two European Cup trophies and a European Challenge to boot, said the same rule applied to the hooker position.

"Rory has a massive engine and his workrate is amazing. I had no hesitation in throwing him straight back into the starting line-up.

"Prior to the injury he was playing a lot of rugby and he was the standout player for me in the European Cup game for Ulster against Toulon," said the 49-year-old New Zealander.

Paul O'Connell captains the side and will win his 96th cap.

The only other change comes on the bench where Dave Foley, man of the match against Georgia, replaces Mike McCarthy, who has concussion, while Cronin's demotion sees South Africa-born hooker Richardt Strauss drop out of the matchday squad.

Ireland, who have risen to third in the IRB rankings for the first time in eight years, are bidding to claim the scalps of both the Wallabies and the Springboks in the same year for the first time since 2006.

Teams:

Ireland:

15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Rhys Ruddock, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell (captain), 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Jack McGrath

Substitutes: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Felix Jones

Australia

15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Luke Jones, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes (three to be omitted): 16 James Hanson, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Benn Robinson, 19 Ben Alexander, 20 James Horwill, 21 Will Skelton 22 Jake Schatz, 23 Will Genia, 24 Quade Cooper, 25 Rob Horne, 26 Kurtley Beale

Read more on:    gordon d'arcy  |  rugby
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