Sexton earns debut for Ireland

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The Independent Online

Jonathan Sexton will make his Ireland debut in Saturday's match against Fiji at the Royal Dublin Society Arena as one of eight changes to the side that drew with Australia.

The 24-year-old replaces Ronan O'Gara at fly-half as reward for his role in Leinster's successful Heineken Cup campaign last season and his solid start to the current season.

Keith Earls comes in for Luke Fitzgerald on the left wing after the Leinster back was last night ruled out for up to six months with knee ligament damage. Earls is the only non-Leinster representative in the backline with centre Gordon D'Arcy, Shane Horgan and Eoin Reddan recalled.

D'Arcy replaces Paddy Wallace at inside centre, Horgan comes in for Tommy Bowe on the right wing and Reddan is given the nod ahead of Tomas O'Leary at scrum-half.

The Leinster centre Brian O'Driscoll, who celebrated his 100th Test appearance with the match-saving try against Australia, will captain the team for the 58th time. Ulster's Tom Court starts ahead of Cian Healy at loosehead prop while Leo Cullen partners Paul O'Connell in the second row. The final change sees Denis Leamy displace his Munster colleague David Wallace at openside.

The South Africa wing Bryan Habana is free to play on the rest of his team's European tour after being cleared of trying to deliberately kick France's Vincent Clerc last week.

Habana was cited after he appeared to kick out at Clerc but an International Rugby Board disciplinary hearing was unable to say it was deliberate. Habana can now play against Italy on Saturday and Ireland the following week.