MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has beefed up his pack with Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy returning to the front row and brought backline general Johnny Sexton into the starting lineup for their must-win second test against Australia on Saturday.
All three players came off the bench in the 18-9 first test loss in Brisbane, where Schmidt looked at some of his fringe players with an eye on next year’s World Cup in Japan.
Ireland struggled up front against the Wallabies at Lang Park while their backline attack was less direct than normal and the three veterans were among eight changes to the starting lineup for the clash at Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium.
Dan Leavy has been brought in as the openside flanker, replacing Jordi Murphy, with a mandate to prevent David Pocock from creating the same kind of havoc at the breakdown as he did last week that stopped Ireland recycling the ball quickly and building phases.
Devin Toner has been brought into the side in place of Iain Henderson to create more pressure on a short Wallabies lineout that had its share of wobbles last week. Toner stands at 2.10 metres tall, while Henderson is 1.98m.
Niall Scannell has been selected at hooker ahead of Rob Herring, ensuring Ireland have an entirely new starting front row with Furlong and Healy, who are expected to put pressure on the Wallabies from the first scrum.
Garry Ringrose has returned to the midfield with Robbie Henshaw, with New Zealand-born inside centre Bundee Aki dropping out of the 23-man matchday squad.
Andrew Conway has been brought in on the right wing, forcing Keith Earls to shift to the left with Jacob Stockdale dropping out of the matchday squad.
Team: 15-Rob Kearney, 14-Andrew Conway, 13-Garry Ringrose, 12-Robbie Henshaw, 11-Keith Earls, 10-Johnny Sexton, 9-Conor Murray; 8-CJ Stander, 7-Dan Leavy, 6-Peter O’Mahony, 5-James Ryan, 4-Devin Toner, 3-Tadhg Furlong, 2-Niall Scanell, 1-Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16-Rob Herring, 17-Jack McGrath, 18-Andrew Porter, 19-Tadhg Beirne, 20-Jordi Murphy, 21-John Cooney, 22-Joey Carbery, 23-Jordan Larmour.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford