Sexton back to face All Blacks

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 20:47

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Ireland coach Joe Schmidt wasted no time in recalling flyhalf Johnny Sexton to his starting XV.

Sexton, who missed Ireland's tour to South Africa in June, has been named in a strong side to take on World Cup champions New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday.

A shoulder injury kept Sexton out of the Test series against the Springboks, which Ireland lost one-two - but saw the Irish record a first-ever victory over the Boks on South African soil.

Also restored to the line-up after a hamstring strain is fullback Rob Kearney.

Rory Best captain's the side and is joined in the front row by Tadhg Furlong and Jack McGrath.

Devin Toner and Donnacha Ryan are paired in the second row, with Jordi Murphy and Christian Stander on the flanks either side of No.8 Jamie Heaslip.
 
Conor Murray starts at scrumhalf, with Sexton wearing the No.10 jersey.

Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne are re-united in midfield, while Andrew Trimble and Simon Zebo fill the wing positions - with Rob Kearney at fullback.
 
Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Joey Carbery and Garry Ringrose are named among the replacements.
 
The Irish face a punishing programme of four internationals in four weeks - with the All Blacks match followed by three games in Dublin against Canada, New Zealand again and Australia.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Christian Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Garry Ringrose.

Date: Saturday, November 5
Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago
Kick-off: 15.00 US CDT (20.00 GMT & Ireland time, 09.00, Sunday, November 6 NZ time)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)