Summer internationals: Ireland target series win over Australia

Andrew Lawton
21 June 2018

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Leinster pair Sean Cronin and Jack Conan will both make their first starts of the summer as Ireland chase an historic series win over Australia in Sydney.

Jack Conan, Leinster

The three-match series is level at 1-1 heading into Saturday’s final Test with head coach Joe Schmidt making five changes from the team that won 26-21 last weekend.

Trio of changes in the pack

Cronin and Conan join clubmate Jack McGrath, who makes his 50th appearance for his country, starting in the pack at the Allianz Stadium.

It will be Cronin’s first start since Ireland’s 2016 win over Canada while there are landmark appearances for Peter O’Mahony (50) and Devin Toner (60).

James Ryan joins Toner in the engine room with O’Mahony starting on the openside with CJ Stander on the blindside and Conan at the base of the scrum.

Iain Henderson misses out with a knee injury while Cian Healy, John Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Jordi Murphy and Niall Scannell offer plenty of cover for the forwards off the bench.

Aki and Stockdale recalled

In the backline, injuries mean Garry Ringrose and Andrew Conway are both absent and replaced by Connacht’s Bundee Aki and Jacob Stockdale of Ulster.

Jonathan Sexton, who sits on 699 Ireland points, and Conor Murray continue as the half-backs with Rob Kearney, Keith Earls and Robbie Henshaw completing the back division.

Connacht scrum-half Kieran Marmion and 21-year-old Leinster back Jordan Larmour complete the matchday 23 for Joe Schmidt’s side.

Schmidt forced into switches

“There were a number who couldn’t train on Tuesday which affected how the players would have kicked on in the starting 15,” Schmidt said.

“We’ve got a 23 that we’re pretty excited about, knowing that the Australians are going to have a super outfit as well. It’s going to be a real Test match to decide the series.

“We’d love to see Sean (Cronin) do really well in the set-pieces. We obviously had Niall Scannell doing really well last week and Rob Herring has been super.

“I thought Peter (O’Mahony) did really well over the ball last week, it’s something that he’s very capable of doing. (The back row) maintains the lineout presence that he offers.”

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