Rugby

2 New Caps In 23 As Ireland Team To Face South Africa Is Named

2 New Caps In 23 As Ireland Team To Face South Africa Is Named

Ireland take on South Africa this Saturday in the first of three November Internationals. Joe Schmidt has unveiled his team today, with a return to the starting 15 for both Cian Healy and Rob Kearney.

As expected, Bundee Aki will earn his first cap for Ireland, alongside former Connacht teammated Robbie Henshaw in the centre, while Munster's Darren Sweetnam will also most likely earn his first cap from the bench, having been named as the replacement back 5 player ahead of Dave Kearney.

A training ground injury rules out Keith Earls, while Jack McGrath is also unlucky, dropping out of the squad altogether with Kilcoyne providing cover on the bench. McGrath, a test player with the Lions just a few months ago, is definitely one of the strangeest selections.

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Schmidt also revealed that Earls is doubt for the series, with reports of a six week layoff circulating. That would rule him out of Munster's crucial Champions Cup games in December against Leicester.

The back-row sees a reunion of Lions trio CJ Staunder, Sean O'Brien and Peter O'Mahony with Rhys Ruddock as back-up. Rob Herring gets the nod ahead of James Treacy as replacement hooker while James Ryan is picked ahead of Ultan Dillane as the second-row option on bench.

It is a year since Ireland's historic victory against New Zealand. A win against South Africa puts them in pole position for a clean sweep in the Autumn Internationals and would provide an ideal platform heading into next years Six Nations.

SEE ALSO: 5 Things Ireland Need To Resolve During The Autumn Internationals

Maurice Brosnan

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