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Rugby World Cup: Tommy Bowe gets the axe as Joe Schmidt shuffles Irish pack

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 18/09/2015

Big calls: Joe Schmidt has left Tommy Bowe out of the squad
Big calls: Joe Schmidt has left Tommy Bowe out of the squad

With Ireland set to take on Canada tomorrow, Joe Schmidt has made a number of big calls in his first ever World Cup team selection.

Iain Henderson has edged his way into the number 4 jersey but an injury for Robbie Henshaw has forced a re-shuffle of the backline while there is no place in the 23 for one-time Schmidt stalwarts Tommy Bowe and Devin Toner.

Ireland get their tournament under way against the 18th-ranked side in the world at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon (2.30pm) with Henderson joined in the first XV by Ulster team-mates Rory Best and Jared Payne while Chris Henry is set to provide back-row cover from the bench.

For Henderson, who has been used mostly as an impact sub during his 19-cap Test career, getting the nod alongside captain Paul O'Connell in the engine room is just reward for his barnstorming performances in the warm-up games.

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Despite featuring in a losing cause, the 23-year-old Ulster academy graduate was his side's most prominent figure against Wales at the Aviva Stadium last month.

His ascension to starter comes at the expense of Devin Toner who, despite being a near ever present during Joe Schmidt's tenure, does not make the 23 with Munster's Donnacha Ryan the lock held in reserve.

Payne will be partnered in midfield for the first time by Luke Fitzgerald after Connacht's Henshaw - alongside Payne for the duration of Ireland's 2014 Six Nations - tweaked a hamstring in training on Tuesday.

Tommy Bowe has paid the price for a poor run of form that saw him make uncharacteristic defensive errors against England earlier this month.

On the decision to omit the two-time British Lion and Toner, Schmidt said: "I don't think either took for granted that they were going to be selected.

"For the last four Tests we haven't started the same team.

"They knew we were looking at different combinations and different personnel. There's some players who have shown a bit and been selected."

Belfast Telegraph

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