Henry out to stake claim for Aussie clash
New Zealand Maori are lining up Ireland as a fitting scalp for their centenary celebrations.
Friday’s clash is going to be a hell of an examination and coach Declan Kidney has selected a strong side in difficult circumstances, with only four non-capped players in a starting 15 which is captained for the first time by Geordan Murphy.
The selection nobody could have predicted a few days ago is Rhys Ruddock starting on the blind-side flank, completing a remarkable rise to prominence for the 19-year-old this season, who only flew in from his Ireland under-20 World Cup duties in Argentina on Monday.
He now finds himself running out to face one of the most fearsome outfits in world rugby.
“I think physically he's good,” said Kidney at yesterday's team announcement. “He had a game the previous Tuesday and the previous Saturday for the under-20s, so he's in good condition. He's match-fit and it was important if he came that he got some pitch time..”
The Leinster flanker lines out in the back-row alongside Ulster's Chris Henry at No 8 and Munster's Niall Ronan at open-side and with Jamie Heaslip suspended and John Muldoon injured, there are back-row places in the match-22 for the following weekend's Test against Australia to fight for.
Marcus Horan, John Fogarty and Tom Court start in the front-row. Dan Tuohy and Ed O'Donoghue complete the front five.
Eoin Reddan gets in ahead of Peter Stringer at scrum-half, while Jonathan Sexton gets his chance at out-half. Paddy Wallace and Gavin Duffy form an experienced midfield and there is plenty of nous behind them, with the 67-times capped Murphy at full-back and Shane Horgan on the right wing. Munster-bound Johne Murphy completes the back three.
Team: Geordan Murphy (captain); Shane Horgan, Gavin Duffy, Paddy Wallace, Johne Murphy; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Marcus Horan, John Fogarty, Tom Court, Ed O'Donoghue, Dan Tuohy, Rhys Ruddock, Niall Ronan, Chris Henry.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, John Hayes, Donncha O'Callaghan, David Wallace, Peter Stringer, Ronan O'Gara, Rob Kearney.