Ireland v Australia: Gordon D'Arcy and Rory Best handed Irish starts

Gordon D'Arcy
Gordon D'Arcy will win his 81st cap in Saturday's game in Dublin
Autumn international: Ireland v Australia
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Sat 22 November Kick-off: 16:30 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and BBC Radio Ulster; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Gordon D'Arcy and Rory Best will start for Ireland in Saturday's Test against Australia in the only changes from the win over South Africa two weeks ago.

With Jared Payne ruled out, D'Arcy, 34, retains his place at centre after starting against Georgia last weekend.

Robbie Henshaw switches to outside centre after wearing the number 12 jersey against the Springboks.

Hooker Best missed the shock win over South Africa because of a calf injury but returns in place of Sean Cronin.

Australia coach Michael Cheika has made four changes from last weekend's 29-26 defeat by France which includes handing a debut to Fiji-born winger Henry Speight.

Speight, who only qualified to play for Australia on residency in September, replaces his ACT Brumbies team-mate Joe Tomane while another change in the backs sees Matt Toomua taking over from Christian Lealiifano.

In the pack, Luke Jones takes over at blindside flanker from Sean McMahon while Sam Carter displaces former skipper James Horwill at lock.

Joe Schmidt says Ireland will face tough task against Australia

Kurtley Beale is named on an extended bench list from which three players will be cut from after being a late call-up to the Australian tour.

Beale, 25, was drafted into the squad by Cheika despite being fined £24,600 after being found to have sent an offensive picture message to Australian Rugby Union female team official Di Patston.

Wallabies business manager Patston quit her post following the controversy and coach Ewen McKenzie resigned shortly afterwards which led to Cheika's appointment.

On Thursday, Cheika said that he would not be playing "social worker" to utility back Beale, whom he worked with during his spell at the Waratahs.

"I'm just a rugby coach," said Cheika.

"So it's honesty, straightforwardness, directness, putting him exactly in the picture of what's required and what's not needed

"And I've found that that works to get the best out of him and also a really good, honest relationship."

Cheika added that there was "no excuse" for Beale's behaviour during the recent controversy but added the player's behaviour during his time at the Waratahs had been "impeccable".

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt rested the majority of his frontline players for last weekend's 49-7 win over Georgia, when only Mike Ross and wing Simon Zebo were retained.

Rhys Ruddock will start in the back row again after being drafted into the Ireland team on the morning of the South Africa game following Chris Henry's illness.

Further tests revealed that Ulster flanker Henry had suffered a blocked blood vessel in his brain and he is expected to be ruled out of rugby for several months.

Michael Cheika during Australia's training session on Thursday morning
Australia's coach is former Leinster boss Michael Cheika

Henry's Ulster team-mate Payne sustained a sprained foot when making his Irish debut against the Springboks.

Ireland, who have risen to third in the IRB rankings for the first time in eight years, are bidding to claim the scalps of both the Wallabies and the Springboks in the same year for the first time since 2006.

However, Ireland coach Schmidt is expecting something of a backlash from Cheika's Australian side after their defeat in Paris.

Former Leinster coach Cheika was very unhappy with his team's display last weekend although they came close to snatching an undeserved victory.

"They'll be disappointed with the result against France and aspects of their play but they almost stole it," said Schmidt.

"If they turn it in against us, they're going to be very difficult to contain."

Australia, then coached by McKenzie, comfortably defeated Ireland 32-15 12 months ago in Schmidt's second match in charge.


Ireland: Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Robbie Henshaw, Gordon D'Arcy, Simon Zebo; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Mike Ross: Devin Toner, Paul O'Connell (capt); Peter O'Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne, Rodney Ah You, Dave Foley, Tommy O'Donnell, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Felix Jones

Australia: Israel Folau; Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevenia Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Henry Speight; Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; James Slipper, Saia Fainga'a, Sekope Kepu; Sam Carter, Rob Simmons; Luke Jones, Michael Hooper (capt), Ben McCalman.

Replacements [from]: James Hanson, Benn Robinson, Ben Alexander, Tetera Faulkner, Will Skelton, James Horwill, Jake Schatz, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Rob Horne, Kurtley Beale.

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