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Aki Returns And O'Brien Starts As Andy Farrell Names A Strong Ireland 23 To Face Australia

Aki Returns And O'Brien Starts As Andy Farrell Names A Strong Ireland 23 To Face Australia
By Colman Stanley
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Stuart McCloskey, Jimmy O'Brien, Jack Crowley, and Joe McCarthy are the biggest winners from today's announcement of the Ireland side to face Australia at the Aviva Stadium this Saturday (kick-off 8 p.m.), while Bundee Aki returns to the bench after his lengthy ban.

O'Brien completes his set of playing centre, fullback, and wing, during this Autumn Nations Series campaign, as he tightens his hold on the position of Ireland's favoured utility back.

Irish selectors also feel that McCloskey's outstanding 27 minute cameo against South Africa was enough to warrant another start against Rugby Championship opposition.

Despite Iain Henderson's reappearance in the Irish squad this week, he is not deemed fit enough to play, and Joe McCarthy is now in line to make his Ireland debut, despite an injury plagued season so far. Ulster's Kieran Treadwell will no doubt feel hard done by after an assured performance off the bench against South Africa.

Jack Crowley benefits from an injury to Joey Carbery, but also from his recent form, with many calling for him to start against Australia, as the quest to find the rightful heir to Sexton continues.

Ireland vs Australia

READ HERE: Igoe's Analysis: What We Learned From Week 2 Of The Autumn Nations Series


The injury to Carbery has also influenced the decision to select O'Brien over Robert Baloucoune, due to the Leinsterman's ability to cover 15.


There has been chatter about Baloucoune's relative 'quietness' during his two starts, but he as been unlucky with the often poor distribution down is wing.

The rest of the selection is fairly par for the course, with the likes of Jeremy Loughman and Nick Timoney/Max Deegan unfortunate not to be rewarded for recent form.

Ireland v Australia: (taken from IRFU website)

15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 24 caps
14. Mack Hansen (Connacht/Corinthians) 8 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 46 caps
12. Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 8 caps
11. Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas) 2 caps
10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 109 caps CAPTAIN
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 22 caps


1. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 47 caps
2. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 12 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 62 caps
4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 35 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 47 caps
6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 88 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 44 caps
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 22 caps

16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 30 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 120 caps
18. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 26 caps
19. Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin University) *
20. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 32 caps
21. Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 6 caps
22. Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution) 1 cap
23. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 40 caps

*denotes uncapped player


SEE ALSO: Ireland's Excellent Year Reflected In World Rugby Awards

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