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).
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Sami Khedira to Arsenal? Arsene Wenger reveals Gunners are still in the market for defensive midfielder
Liverpool transfer news: Samuel Eto'o still on Brendan Rodgers' radar despite imminent arrival of Mario Balotelli - reports
Malky Mackay texts: Harry Redknapp defends former Cardiff City manger - 'he hasn't raped anyone and he is not a paedophile'
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Risky business to think Balotelli can replace Luis Suarez
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile