Dan Leavy and Garry Ringrose back to face Australia
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt set to make eight changes for second test
Dan Leavy will be tasked with taking on a formidable Australian back row. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
With a view to neutralising David Pocock’s impact over Irish ball, Dan Leavy returns at openside for the second test against Australia in Melbourne this Saturday.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will seek to salvage the series and eight changes are expected to the starting XV, one positional, as Bundee Aki makes way for Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw switches from outside to inside centre. Schmidt will name his team on Thursday morning.
Schmidt retains just three forwards from the 18-9 first test defeat to Michael Cheika’s Wallabies. James Ryan, CJ Stander and Munster captain Peter O’Mahony keep their places as five Leinster men come into the Irish pack.
The Champions Cup quintet - Cian Healy, Seán Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner and Ryan - that started the victory over Racing 92 in Bilbao, when Scott Fardy played blindside, is tasked with reversing the Brisbane collisions that saw Ireland outmuscled by Cheika’s inexperienced front five.
Johnny Sexton ahead of Joey Carbery at outhalf was expected while Jordan Larmour and Andrew Conway remain on standby in case Keith Earls fails the return to play protocols following a Head Injury Assessment 25 minutes into last weekend’s bruising encounter.
The bench is still to be finalised so Jack Conan, Jordi Murphy, dropped for Leavy, and the uncapped Tadhg Beirne are hoping to provide backrow cover. Beirne could be used as the second row replacement if Schmidt decides to stand down Iain Henderson and Quinn Roux.
With Rory Best, who turns 36 in August, unavailable due to injury, O’Mahony and Sexton will share the leadership duties.
The Australian media are reporting an unchanged Wallaby XV.
Over 28,000 tickets have been sold for the AAMI Park (capacity 30,050) despite the test match clashing with the Socceroos opening World Cup game against France.
Ireland v Australia (possible): R Kearney; K Earls, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, S Cronin, T Furlong; D Toner, J Ryan; P O’Mahony, D Leavy, CJ Stander.