Ireland: Stuart McCloskey and Jimmy O’Brien handed opportunity against Australia

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Andy Farrell has resisted the temptation to bring Bundee Aki straight back into the Ireland starting line-up and has instead persisted with the in-form Stuart McCloskey.

With Robbie Henshaw out with a hamstring injury, Aki would usually be the natural replacement, but he is only just returning from an eight-week suspension.

The head coach has therefore decided to reward McCloskey’s excellence for both province and country by partnering him with Garry Ringrose at centre.

Seven changes from Fiji win

There are seven changes in total, including a return for Johnny Sexton who has recovered from a dead leg to take his place in the Ireland XV.

He once again combines at half-back with Jamison Gibson-Park, who has enjoyed a stunning 2022 and impressed off the bench against South Africa.

Hugo Keenan is at full-back after being rested for the Fiji match while Jimmy O’Brien is retained. Farrell has decided against keeping Robert Baloucoune in the side as O’Brien, Mack Hansen and Keenan form the back three.

Up front, it is very much as expected as the same pack which started against South Africa is selected to face the Wallabies this weekend.

Talented youngsters on the bench

There is plenty of punch on the bench but there is also youthful exuberance with Joe McCarthy, Craig Casey and Jack Crowley among the replacements.

Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Jack Conan and Aki complete the 23-man squad.

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jimmy O’Brien, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Jamison Gibson Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Joe McCarthy, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Bundee Aki

Date: Saturday, November 19
Venue: Aviva Stadium
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: James Doleman (New Zealand), Tual Trainini (France)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)

READ MORE: Wallabies: Big guns return for Ireland showdown in Dublin

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