Joe Schmidt (AFP)
Dublin - Ireland coach Joe Schmidt decided not to risk fit-again centre Robbie Henshaw when he made 12 changes for Sunday's Rugby World Cup Pool D match against Romania.
Six Nations champions Ireland opened their World Cup campaign with a slick 50-7 win over Canada and, with tougher games against Italy and France to come, opted to rest first-choice players including Johnny Sexton and Peter O'Mahony, while Paul O'Connell, Sean O'Brien and Conor Murray are on the bench.
Centre Henshaw, who formed a strong midfield partnership with Jared Payne during this year's Six Nations campaign, has been Ireland's only injury concern, with a tight hamstring, but will be ready for Italy on Oct. 4.
"Robbie is fit to play, but he missed the early part of the week. He is fully running now and we just felt that we would rather not push ahead," Schmidt said at a news conference on Friday.
"If you get a re-injury, then you are really in a situation where his World Cup is in doubt. This way we feel that we have taken no risk."
Though utility back Luke Fitzgerald shined at centre in Henshaw's absence last time out, Ulster's Darren Cave is given a chance beside Payne, who is retained in the starting line-up along with stand-in captain Jamie Heaslip and wing Keith Earls.
British and Irish Lions prop Cian Healy, who missed all Ireland's warm-up games with a neck injury and returned to action for the first time since April as a replacement against Canada, is named in the front row.
The towering Devin Toner, ever present in the Six Nations but who looks to have fallen behind Iain Henderson in the pecking order, starts at lock.
Schmidt added that flyhalf Ian Madigan could be given a first run at scrumhalf later in the game after being named as emergency cover at number nine behind Murray and Eoin Reddan.
15-Simon Zebo, 14-Tommy Bowe, 13-Jared Payne, 12-Darren Cave, 11-Keith Earls, 10-Ian Madigan, 9-Eoin Reddan; 8-Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7-Chris Henry, 6-Jordi Murphy, 5-Devin Toner, 4-Donnacha Ryan, 3-Nathan White, 2-Richard Strauss, 1-Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-Jack McGrath, 18-Tadhg Furlong, 19-Paul O'Connell, 20-Sean O'Brien, 21-Conor Murray, 22-Paddy Jackson, 23-Rob Kearney