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Ireland make changes for Australia

Sean O'Brien, Rob Kearney and Cian Healy will return to the side for Ireland's key World Cup group clash with Australia at Eden Park on Saturday.

Four changes have been made to the XV that secured an unconvincing 22-10 victory over the United States, with Eoin Reddan's selection ahead of Conor Murray completing the new arrivals. European player of the year O'Brien has been picked at openside after completing his rehabilitation from the knee injury which has kept him sidelined since August 20.

Kearney has not played for a month because of a groin strain but is restored at full-back in place of Geordan Murphy, while Healy is fit again after sustaining an eye injury against England two and a half weeks ago.

Apart from the absence of David Wallace, who was ruled out of the World Cup with a knee problem, coach Declan Kidney has named his strongest side to face the Wallabies.

"The players coming back will bring freshness to the team," Kidney said. "If you play the same team week in, week out, it becomes difficult for everybody.

"I didn't think Sean, Rob or Healy were as fit as they needed to be to play against the USA last week so they got another week under their belts. They're raring to go and that brings its own impetus into the team. That's what you need."

There is no concern over Kearney's ability to finish the match, even though he has been restricted to just 140 minutes of rugby since last autumn. In discussing Kearney's fitness, Kidney revealed that blindside flanker Stephen Ferris is playing only a limited role in training since his comeback from a serious knee injury.

"Rob could have played last week but some guys have the capacity to come in and play well," he said. "Rob's shown that in the past and against Scotland last month.

"For him to be more confident that his leg isn't in any way an issue, I felt he should have another week off. You don't want a fella having what the medics call a chronic injury which is ongoing from week to week.

"We have a small bit of that already in that Stephen doesn't train every day. You don't want that right through the team."


From Belfast Telegraph