Sexton favoured over O'Gara for Ireland
Tuesday 24 November 2009
Jonathan Sexton will start Ireland's clash with South Africa at Croke Park on Saturday after being preferred ahead of Ronan O'Gara at fly-half.
In a surprise move by Ireland coach Declan Kidney, Sexton has seized the number 10 jersey from O'Gara as reward for his outstanding display in Saturday's 41-6 victory over Fiji.
The last time O'Gara, who is included on the bench, was dropped was in 2003 and the Lions veteran has had a stranglehold on the position ever since.
But the composure shown by Sexton in dismantling Fiji on his Test debut has convinced Kidney he is ready to face the world and Tri-Nations champions.
It is a bold selection that rewards the 24-year-old's sparkling form since being thrust onto centre stage during the latter rounds of Leinster's march to their first Heineken Cup crown last season.
Otherwise, Kidney has kept faith with the XV that drew 20-20 with Australia in Ireland's autumn opener with Keith Earls replacing knee injury victim Luke Fitzgerald on the left wing.
Ulster's Paddy Wallace is restored at inside centre where he is preferred ahead of Gordon D'Arcy, who features among the substitutes.
Cian Healy of Leinster resumes loosehead duties after missing out against Fiji because of a shoulder injury.
Munster prop Tony Buckley supplies front row cover from a bench which sees scrum-half Peter Stringer get the nod ahead of Eoin Reddan.
Back row Denis Leamy also feature among the replacements despite suffering an ankle injury against the Fijians.
Kidney revealed Sexton's display against Fiji whetted his appetite to see more of the Leinster fly-half in action.
"I know we have a world-class fly-half in Ronan O'Gara but I thought Jonathan Sexton had a good game last weekend," he said.
"I need to find out more about Jonathan. I worked with him last year and played him in the A team.
"Ronan is disappointed but Ronan being Ronan, he's still contributing to the team this week.
"It doesn't matter that it was a difficult call, my job is to pick the team."
Kidney revealed Leamy will undergo a fitness test later in the week to confirm his place on the bench.
Ireland team to play South Africa on Saturday, November 28, at Croke Park (1430):
R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (capt) (Leinster), P Wallace (Ulster), K Earls (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), T O'Leary (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), J Flannery (Munster), J Hayes (Munster); D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Buckley (Munster), L Cullen (Leinster), D Leamy (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), R O'Gara (Munster), G D'Arcy (Leinster).
Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Compare the Barcelona and Real Madrid players in El Clasico
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Tim Sherwood: The mavericks have always needed special handling – but Balotelli is not delivering his side of the bargain for Liverpool
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Modesty of Louis van Gaal makes nice contrast with his old pupil Jose Mourinho
Real Madrid analysis: Toni Kroos control may give extra edge that enables Real Madrid to retain Champions League crown
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Putin accuses US of causing global instability