/ Rugby

Strauss to make Ireland debut against Springboks

Updated: Thursday, 08 Nov 2012 20:21 | Comments

Jamie Heaslip (l) will skipper a side short a few familiar faces against the 2007 World Champions Ireland are missing a wealth of experienced players in Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll and Rory Best
Jamie Heaslip (l) will skipper a side short a few familiar faces against the 2007 World Champions Ireland are missing a wealth of experienced players in Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll and Rory Best

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Jamie Heaslip will captain Ireland in the opening game of the 2012 Guinness Series against South Africa this Saturday (Live on RTÉ Two and www.RTÉ.ie/sport).

The Leinster No 8 will be leading his country for the first time when he walks the team onto the Aviva Stadium pitch as part of a side that contains one new cap in the starting team and a further three uncapped players among the replacements.

Richardt Strauss will earn his first cap for Ireland at hooker in the front row alongside his provincial colleagues Cian Healy and Mike Ross. 

Mike McCarthy is selected in the second row alongside Donnacha Ryan, with Chris Henry selected to start at openside in the back row, with Peter O’Mahoney selected at blindside.

In the backs, Simon Zebo will be earning his first start for Ireland at full-back, in a back three that has plenty of experience in Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe, who will be earning his 50th international cap. 

Among the replacements, forwards David Kilcoyne, Michael Bent and Iain Henderson are all in line to make their international debuts. 

Ireland XV to play South Africa: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray 1 Cian Healy, 2 Richardt Strauss, 3 Mike Ross, 4 Mike McCarthy, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 7 Chris Henry 8 Jamie Heaslip

Replacements: Sean Cronin, David Kilcoyne, Michael Bent, Donncha O'Callaghan, Iain Henderson, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O'Gara, Fergus McFadden 

Ireland have lost their last four Tests, the most of recent of which was their 60-0 mauling by New Zealand in June.

With IRB ranking points critical to seeding for the next World Cup at stake, it is imperative they dispatch a South African side that is also missing several big names. 

"We always hoped it would be drip-fed rather than en bloc, but such is the way of things." - Declan Kidney

Ireland are missing a wealth of experienced players in Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll and Rory Best.

Sean O'Brien, Stephen Ferris and Rob Kearney are also absent, leaving a massive hole in the side, but coach Declan Kidney believes his squad is strong enough to cope.

"When you lose players of their experience it's always going to be a hurdle to overcome," Kidney said.

"But that's why we've been building a squad over the last couple of years anyway because we always knew this day would come.

"We always hoped it would be drip-fed rather than en bloc, but such is the way of things.

"We talked with Jamie about the captaincy over the past year and he's shown good potential for the job with Leinster.

"Although he'd probably deny it, Jamie is the consummate professional. When he turns up for work he's really zeroed in.

"That's a good place to start - leading by example. He's been part of this group for a few years now.

"There were other guys holding their hands up for the job but the time is right for Jamie."

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