Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) – Joey Carbery will start instead of star fly-half Johnny Sexton in a much-changed Ireland line-up for the first of three Tests against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday.
Coach Joe Schmidt also left Six Nations heroes Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Garry Ringrose and Dan Leavy out of his starting team named Thursday.
Carbery was Sexton’s deputy throughout the Six Nations and while he started the win over Fiji in November, he has struggled to get action in his preferred position at his home province of Leinster.
Schmidt has indicated he would be rotating the team during the three-Test tour, but his decision to leave his high-calibre players out of the Brisbane opener comes with risks.
Peter O’Mahony will captain the team in the injury absence of Rory Best as Schmidt keeps Leinster’s leading lights on ice after their busy end-of-season run-in.
O’Mahony first led Ireland on the summer tour to USA and Canada in 2013 and he will be joined in the back row by Jordi Murphy at openside flanker and CJ Stander at No.8.
James Ryan and Iain Henderson partner up in the second row, while Herring wins his fourth cap at hooker, packing down alongside Jack McGrath and John Ryan in a new look front row.
Fullback Rob Kearney will be joined in the back three by Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls.
Robbie Henshaw returns to the team and is reunited with Bundee Aki in the centres, while Carbery partners scrum-half Conor Murray.
Schmidt has named Cronin, Healy, Furlong, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion, Sexton and Jordan Larmour among his reserves.
Rob Kearney; Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; CJ Stander, Jordi Murphy, Peter O’Mahony (capt); Iain Henderson, James Ryan; John Ryan, Rob Herring, Jack McGrath.
Reserves: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion, Johnny Sexton, Jordan Larmour.