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Rugby World Cup: Henderson starts for Ireland in Canada opener

Iain Henderson has been confirmed to start in Ireland's opening Rugby World Cup game against Canada on Saturday.

He will be joined in the starting line-up by fellow Ulster men Jared Payne and Rory Best, while Chris Henry has been named on the bench.

Henderson has been in flying form of late and impressed in the warm-up game against Wales.

The 23-year-old will partner Irish captain, Paul O'Connell in the second row.

With Devin Toner missing out, Henderson has a clear opportunity to cement a starting berth for the pool phase fixtures.

It's a remarkable turnaround for the player who was out for a lengthly spell with a hip injury last year.

After suggestions coach Joe Schmidt may rest some players for games further into the competition, the New Zealander has named his strongest possible side.

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Elsewhere Robbie Henshaw misses out with a hamstring injury with Luke Fitzgerald filling in.

Leinster star Fitzgerald will make his World Cup debut in Cardiff on Saturday, having missed the final cut in both 2007 and 2011.

Rob Kearney has recovered from the knee injury that kept him out of Ireland's 21-13 defeat to England at Twickenham on Saturday, September 5.

Munster flyer Keith Earls has beaten club-mate Simon Zebo to the left wing berth, indicating Schmidt's faith in the 27-year-old, who only broke his 29-month Test absence in August.

Donnacha Ryan has won the nod on the bench ahead of Toner, given his ability to cover blindside flanker as well as second row.

Munster lock Ryan's presence among the replacements also affords Schmidt the luxury of naming out-and-out openside Chris Henry on the bench.

Fit-again prop Cian Healy takes a seat on the bench, Leinster's wrecking-ball front-rower finally ready for action following neck surgery in May.

Kick off is at 2.30pm.

Full Ireland team and replacements:

15. Rob Kearney

14. Dave Kearney

13. Jared Payne

12. Luke Fitzgerald

11. Keith Earls

10. Jonathan Sexton

9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath

2. Rory Best

3. Mike Ross

4. Iain Henderson

5. Paul O'Connell

6. Peter O'Mahony

7. Sean O'Brien

8. Jamie Heaslip


16. Sean Cronin

17. Cian Healy

18. Nathan White

19. Donnacha Ryan

20. Chris Henry

21. Eoin Reddan

22. Ian Madigan

23. Simon Zebo

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