Johnny Sexton returns to the Ireland team and will captain the side for the first time in Thursday's Rugby World Cup clash with Russia in Kobe.

The Leinster out-half, who was left out of the squad for last Saturday's defeat to Japan, will become the 106th player to captain Ireland at this level. 

"It's a massive honour to captain Ireland," said Sexton, who suffered a quad strain in the opening game against Scotland. "It's something I've thought about as a kid. I am 100 percent [fit].

"I've made a lot of decisions around trying to get there someday. I'm incredibly proud."

Head coach Joe Schmidt has made 11 changes for the Pool A encounter with Rob Kearney, Garry Ringrose, Keith Earls and Peter O'Mahony the only players who started against the hosts to retain their places. 

Captain Rory Best, Cian Healy, Conor Murray, James Ryan and Josh van der Flier are all rested, while Jordi Murphy, who replaced the injured Jack Conan in the squad, comes straight into the starting team having arrived on Sunday and "trained unbelievably well". 

Joey Carbery will cover the scrum-half position from the bench. 

Asked about playing centre Ringrose for the third successive match, Schmidt said: "It's a risk but Garry is feeling great, and he’s playing super.

"I thought Garry was really good last weekend, he was one of the guys who didn’t really miss a beat.

"He was still working really hard, creating opportunity.

"He moved into 12, we had Jordan Larmour at 13, who's really a back-three player for us, we had Luke McGrath on the wing and we were chasing the game, and that’s a fairly tough situation to be in.

"Robbie Henshaw (hamstring) is on the cusp of being available but that's a risk we don't feel we need to take because Bundee is back.

"Chris Farrell's concussion means our hands our tied."

Ireland: Rob Kearney, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Keith Earls, Johnny Sexton (capt), Luke McGrath; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn Tadhg Beirne, Rhys Ruddock, Peter O'Mahony, Jordi Murphy. 

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Jordan Larmour.

Earlier, Russia named a team containing nine changes to the side beaten 34-9 by Samoa. 

Vasily Artemyev will once again captain the team from full-back.

Russia: Vasily Artemyev (capt), German Davydov, Igor Galinovskiy, Kirill Golosnitskiy, Denis Simplikevich, Ramil Gaisin, Dmitry Perov; Andrei Polivalov, Evgeny Matveev, Kirill Gotovtsev, Andrey Garbuzov, Bogdan Fedotko, Anton Sychev, Tagir Gadzhiev.

Replacements: Stanislav Selskii, Valery Morozov, Vladimir Podrezov, Andrey Ostrikov, Evgeny Elgin, Sergey Ianiushkin, Roman Khodin, Vladimir Ostroushko.

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Follow Ireland v Russia on Thursday (kick-off 11.15am) via the live blog on RTÉ.ie/Sport and the News  Now App, watch live on RTÉ2 from 10.30am or listen to live match commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 from 11am.