RUGBY : Jerry Flannery has been included in Ireland’s team for their autumn opener against Australia at Croke Park on Sunday.
Jerry Flannery has been included in Ireland’s team for their autumn opener against Australia at Croke Park on Sunday.
The Munster hooker has won his battle with a calf injury and will pack down alongside Test debutant Cian Healy of Leinster.
With Marcus Horan ruled out until January after undergoing an unspecified routine medical procedure, the 22-year-old Healy is given the nod at loosehead.
John Hayes resumes at tighthead despite a lack of match practice after completing a five-week suspension for stamping on Saturday.
Ulster’s Paddy Wallace is preferred ahead of Gordon D’Arcy at inside centre while there are two uncapped players on the bench in Connacht hooker Sean Cronin and Leinster out-half Jonathan Sexton.
There are only two changes to the side that clinched the Grand Slam with a 17-15 victory over Wales in March with Healy replacing Horan and Wallace coming in for D’Arcy.
Captain Brian O’Driscoll will make his 100th Test appearance on Sunday having accumulated 93 caps for Ireland and six for the Lions.
Ireland have beaten Australia just twice in their past seven meetings dating back to 2002 and only eight times out of a total 27. However, both victories this decade have come in Dublin where the Wallabies have lost twice on their past three visits.
Ireland team to play Australia: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O’Driscoll (capt) (Leinster), P Wallace (Ulster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); R O’Gara (Munster), T O’Leary (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), J Flannery (Munster), J Hayes (Munster); D O’Callaghan (Munster), P O’Connell (Munster); S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Court (Ulster), L Cullen (Leinster), D Leamy (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster), K Earls (Munster).