Ronan O'Gara starts for Ireland against Italy

Ronan O'Gara has been retained for Ireland's vital World Cup clash with Italy at Otago Stadium on Sunday.

The Lions fly-half was named man of the match in the 62-12 victory over Russia and has held off the challenge of Jonathan Sexton to remain in the number 10 jersey.



O'Gara is joined at half-back by Munster colleague Conor Murray, who has edged Eoin Reddan out of the starting line-up.



With the winner of Sunday's match progressing to the quarter-finals - and the loser returning home - punishing Italian indiscipline on the scoreboard will be crucial.



Coach Declan Kidney, however, denies O'Gara has been picked for his superior goalkicking at the World Cup.



"Ronan and Conor went well in the last 20 minutes against Australia. Ronan went well against Russia as well," said Kidney.



"This is the right combination for us against Italy. They've played a few times together now.



"Ronan has been place kicking well, but if Jonathan Sexton was starting on Sunday it wouldn't worry me.



"I'd hate to go down the road that we're picking Ronan because of his place kicking.



"He's too good a player to be saying that about him while Jonny's place kicking is not of concern to me."



After using several squad players in the nine-try demolition of Russia, Kidney has selected his strongest line-up for the pivotal match of Pool C.



Winger Tommy Bowe and lock Paul O'Connell have recovered from respective calf and hamstring injuries to take their place in the XV.



Brian O'Driscoll returns to lead a side that, apart from the half-backs, is identical to the one selected for the 15-6 victory over Australia.



Ireland could finish the group phase with three wins, including a stunning upset of the Wallabies, yet will still return home - if they fail to beat Italy.



Kidney insists he always viewed the Azzurri at the key fixture, even though outside the camp Australia was perceived to be of greater significance.



"Everyone was talking about the Australia game coming into the World Cup, but in our minds we always knew Italy was the big one," he said.



"Australia was the attractive one to win, Italy was the necessary one to win.



"The law of averages said Australia would beat Italy in the first match.



"Unless you do a New Zealand and get 15 points from your first three games, it was always going to come down to this.



"England and South Africa find themselves in the same situation - three wins from three - yet are also in cup final situations.



"If we were to go out at this stage, well that's life. The Australia win gave us momentum and that was carried on against Russia."



Ireland team to face Italy at Otago Stadium, Dunedin, on Sunday, October 2 (KO 0830BST):

R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster); R O'Gara (Munster), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), S O'Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster).



Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster), Tom Court (Ulster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), D Leamy (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster).



BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy