Ireland opt for experience against Boks

Ireland opt for experience against Boks

DUBLIN – Ireland have named their strongest available side for Saturday’s Test against South Africa at Lansdowne Road.

With his focus firmly on next year’s World Cup, coach Eddie O’Sullivan declined the opportunity to experiment in the first of three autumn fixtures for his squad. The starting XV features just one, injury-enforced, change from the starting XV that which was beaten 37-15 in Ireland’s last Test outing, in Australia in June.Ulster hooker Rory Best comes into the side in place of the injured Jerry Flannery (shoulder) to win his fourth cap and first start for Ireland.Scrumhalf Peter Stringer will be winning his 70th cap while Brian O’Driscoll captains the side for the 31st time as part of a line-up boasting an average of 38 caps per head.The replacements bench sees the return of Leinster forward Malcolm O’Kelly, Ireland’s most capped player, as well as Frankie Sheahan and Simon Easterby.All three missed the tour of Australia through injury.They are joined on the bench by the uncapped Paddy Wallace.Neil Best’s strong performances for Ulster this season allowed him to get the nod at blindside flanker ahead of Easterby while lock Donncha O’Callaghan retains the jersey that O’Kelly would usually fill.The backline has a familiar look to it with Leinster’s Girvan Dempsey edging out Geordan Murphy for the number 15 shirt once again.O’Sullivan said: “As usual the back and second rows were the most difficult areas of discussion.Other than that it was pretty straightforward so it wasn’t the toughest selection meeting we’ve had.”But there are quite a few guys on the bench who could have started.In general we’ve selected on form.”Girvan Dempsey has been playing well for Leinster and scored a few tries in the Heineken Cup during the opening rounds.”Geordan has been playing on the wing for Leicester and Girvan just shaded it on form.”Leaving out Simon Easterby was the most difficult decision.I’m a fan of his.He’s always been close to or in the team and it was a very tough call.”But if you look at form Neil has been playing very well for Ulster.It was a toss of the coin between the two of them.”Nampa-AFPThe starting XV features just one, injury-enforced, change from the starting XV that which was beaten 37-15 in Ireland’s last Test outing, in Australia in June.Ulster hooker Rory Best comes into the side in place of the injured Jerry Flannery (shoulder) to win his fourth cap and first start for Ireland.Scrumhalf Peter Stringer will be winning his 70th cap while Brian O’Driscoll captains the side for the 31st time as part of a line-up boasting an average of 38 caps per head.The replacements bench sees the return of Leinster forward Malcolm O’Kelly, Ireland’s most capped player, as well as Frankie Sheahan and Simon Easterby.All three missed the tour of Australia through injury.They are joined on the bench by the uncapped Paddy Wallace.Neil Best’s strong performances for Ulster this season allowed him to get the nod at blindside flanker ahead of Easterby while lock Donncha O’Callaghan retains the jersey that O’Kelly would usually fill.The backline has a familiar look to it with Leinster’s Girvan Dempsey edging out Geordan Murphy for the number 15 shirt once again.O’Sullivan said: “As usual the back and second rows were the most difficult areas of discussion.Other than that it was pretty straightforward so it wasn’t the toughest selection meeting we’ve had.”But there are quite a few guys on the bench who could have started.In general we’ve selected on form.”Girvan Dempsey has been playing well for Leinster and scored a few tries in the Heineken Cup during the opening rounds.”Geordan has been playing on the wing for Leicester and Girvan just shaded it on form.”Leaving out Simon Easterby was the most difficult decision.I’m a fan of his.He’s always been close to or in the team and it was a very tough call.”But if you look at form Neil has been playing very well for Ulster.It was a toss of the coin between the two of them.”Nampa-AFP

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