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Injury woes for Schmidt but Aki to get nod

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt is expected to give a debut to Bundee Aki when he names his team this afternoon to face South Africa, but the Ireland coach's focus is likely to be elsewhere as he counts the cost of a tough week's training.

Training-ground injuries for Keith Earls and Jack McGrath could rule them out, while Sean O'Brien is also carrying a knock but is expected to be picked at openside.

Andrew Conway will come in for his fellow Munsterman Earls on the right wing if he is ruled out, with Jacob Stockdale in line for the biggest game of his career on the left and Rob Kearney favourite to complete the back-three.

Aki will be reunited with his old Connacht partner Robbie Henshaw in the centre, while Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton will line up at half-back.

Up front, Cian Healy will be asked to carry his fine Leinster form into an Ireland jersey alongside Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong in McGrath's absence, with Dave Kilcoyne on the bench.

Iain Henderson will join Devin Toner in the second-row, while highly rated James Ryan could be selected ahead of Ultan Dillane on the bench. Peter O'Mahony is likely to join O'Brien and CJ Stander in an all-Lions back-row.

Possible Ireland team: R Kearney; A Conway, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best (capt), T Furlong; I Henderson, D Toner; P O'Mahony, S O'Brien, CJ Stander. Reps: R Herring, D Kilcoyne, John Ryan, James Ryan, R Ruddock, K Marmion, J Carbery, D Kearney.

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