Ireland hand Humphreys the leading role in Perth

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The Independent Online

The fly-half David Humphreys will captain Ireland in place of the injured Brian O'Driscoll against Australia in Perth on Saturday. It will be a 53rd Test appearance for Humphreys in an Irish side that shows six changes from the one that lost to England in the Six Nations decider in March.

The injured Justin Bishop, O'Driscoll, Denis Hickie, as well as the forwards John Hayes and Anthony Foley are out, while Girvan Dempsey, used a substitute in that game, starts. Two positional changes mean Geordan Murphy switches from full-back to outside centre in place of O'Driscoll and Victor Costello moves from blindside to No 8.

Murphy has never played international rugby at outside centre before - his previous 16 caps have been at either full-back or on the wing. Reggie Corrigan, who has made 20 appearances for Ireland at loose-head prop, has been selected for the first time in a Test at tight-head. James Topping returns after three-years to win his eighth cap at right wing.

The Ireland coach, Eddie O'Sullivan - like his Australian counterpart Eddie Jones - has faced an injury nightmare and has been forced to make eight changes from the side that beat Australia 18-9 at Lansdowne Road last November.

Meanwhile, Australia have named the uncapped centre Morgan Turinui in an experimental line-up but the 21-year-old is a doubt after straining a muscle in training yesterday.

Queensland's 23-year-old centre Steve Kefu, with only one Test cap, is also called up, while the uncapped former rugby league international Lote Tuqiri is among the replacements. The backs Stephen Larkham and Matthew Burke are among several notable absentees.

The Welsh Rugby Union will have to pay around £3,000 after its players, who missed a scheduled flight to Australia, agreed to pay for their overnight stay in London. The players had been negotiating with the union over tour payments before congestion on the M4 delayed their bus to Heathrow, causing the squad to miss their flight on Monday. Wales play in Sydney a week on Saturday and New Zealand in Hamilton a week later.

Clive Woodward's England squad are due to arrive in New Zealand today, for games with a Maori team in New Plymouth on Monday before the Test matches against the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday 14 June and Australia in Melbourne a week later.

Closer to home there was plenty of cross-channel activity yesterday as clubs began planning their squads for next season. The Gloucester director of rugby, Nigel Melville, will fly to France today in a bid to sign the 63-times capped hooker Raphael Ibanez, as a direct replacement for the departing Olivier Azam. Melville is also tracking the Argentinian outside-half Juan-Martin Hernandez.

The Bristol scrum-half Agustin Pichot has spoken to Stade Français about a move, while London Irish have signed the Canadian No 8 Phil Murphy from Perpignan.

* The former Rugby Football Union president and England international Sir Peter Yarranton has died at the age of 78. Sir Peter, also an ex-chairman of the Sports Council, won five caps at lock in 1954 and 1955.

DRAW FOR POOL STAGES OF 2003-04 HEINEKEN CUP: Pool 1: Stade Francais or Toulouse (winners of French Championship), Leicester, Ulster, Ebbw Vale/Newport regional team. Pool 2: Stade Francais or Toulouse (runners-up of French Championship), Leeds, Neath/Swansea regional team, Edinburgh. Pool 3: Biarritz, Sale Sharks, Leinster, Cardiff regional team. Pool 4: Agen, Northampton, Llanelli regional team, Borders. Pool 5: Bourgoin, Gloucester, Munster, Treviso. Pool 6: Perpignan, London Wasps, Bridgend/Pontypridd regional team, Calvisano.

IRELAND TEAM (v Australia, Subiaco Oval, Perth, Sat)

G Dempsey (Leinster); J Topping (Ulster), G Murphy (Leicester), K Maggs (Bath), J Kelly (Munster); D Humphreys (Ulster, capt), P Stringer (Munster); M Horan (Munster), S Byrne (Leinster), R Corrigan (Leinster) G Longwell (Ulster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), A Quinlan (Munster), K Gleeson (Leinster), V Costello (Leinster).

AUSTRALIA: C Latham; W Sailor, M Turinui, S Kefu, J Roff; E Flatley, G Gregan (capt); B Young, J Paul, P Noriega, N Sharpe, D Giffin, D Lyons, G Smith, T Kefu.

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