Peter O'Mahony has left the Irish camp ahead of this weekend's game. Yep, believe it or not, Ireland are going to face someone other than New Zealand this weekend, and we will all be able to move on from last Saturday's game. Eventually.
Australia are in town on Saturday evening, with kick-off slated for 5.30pm.
Ireland's team selection for that game is, as always, generating interest. While Ireland are without both Robbie Henshaw and Johnny Sexton through injury for the game with the Wallabies, the autumn internationals have proved that Ireland have a level of squad depth that we haven't experienced for years.
This is particularly pronounced in the back-row, where - barring a catastrophic run of injuries - Ireland have the luxury of being confident in going toe-to-toe with anyone at international level with a couple of world-class back-rowers kept in reserve.
That will be the case against Australia, as Ireland look to be content to do without the services of Munster captain Peter O'Mahony. He has been released from the Irish training camp and has returned to Munster, along with John Ryan, Billy Holland, and Jack O'Donoghue.
The fact Joe Schmidt is content to allow O'Mahony return to Munster would suggest that CJ Stander should be fit to play. Stander left the game at the weekend after twenty minutes having taken a concussive knock to the head, and has been going through the return-to-play protocols this week.
As per usual, the remarkably durable Jamie Heaslip will start at eight, with the remaining positions expected to be filled by two from Sean O'Brien, CJ Stander, and Josh Van Der Flier. Iain Henderson is an option but previous selections would point to the fact that Schmidt prefers him in the second-row.
Van Der Flier was outstanding off the bench against the All Blacks, so Sean O'Brien's starting ahead of him - given that O'Brien went the full 80 against the All Blacks - while probable, is not fully guaranteed.
O'Mahony did not travel with the Irish squad to Chicago, although he did play the full eighty minutes the following week against Canada. He is now likely to captain Munster against Treviso on Saturday afternoon.
Joe Schmidt names his starting team tomorrow afternoon.
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