Schmidt names much-changed Ireland side

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says he has full belief in his much-changed team for Saturday’s crunch final Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth.

The New Zealander has made six personnel changes and one positional switch to his starting XV for the series decider against the Springboks as Ireland bring their long campaign to a close.

Jared Payne has been ruled out with a calf injury, while Robbie Henshaw previously left the squad with a knee problem. Back in come Keith Earls, Mike Ross and Jordi Murphy, who had been rested, while CJ Stander returns after serving his one-match ban.

Payne’s injury means a first start for Connacht’s Tiernan O’Halloran, while Ulster pair Stuart Olding and Luke Marshall partner up in the centre.

The absence of Payne and Henshaw is a big blow to Schmidt, but he insists he has full confidence in his troops.

“I’m utterly confident that they’ll make me and themselves proud,” he said. “They’ll make sure that Ireland feel proud of them because that’s the way they commit to going about their work and I’ve no doubt that they’ll be no different than it has been in the last two Tests.

“Yes, it’s been a long season, people are tired and that’s going to maybe detract from people being at their optimum but, at the same time, I don’t think too many people will detect that because what they don’t have in fresh reserves of energy, they’ll make up for it with the full commitment they make to doing the job that they do.”

The inclusion of Matt Healy and Eoin Reddan on Ireland’s bench means that all of the travelling party will have had some involvement in the match-day squads during the three-Test series.

“There’s a few that were rested last weekend and come back in,” Schmidt said. One of the things that we wanted to do was to involve as many as players as possible on tour. It means that everybody will have been in a match-day 23 and I think that’s exciting for the players that have come away.

“We have 32 players, obviously with Robbie Henshaw heading back we have 31 still available to us. Jared Payne has still got a bit of tightness in his calf. We’re just not prepared to risk further injury if we put him out there.

“So, at the same time, it’s a great opportunity for Tiernan O’Halloran and for Matt Healy to come in on the bench.

“You couldn’t get a more exciting opportunity than being over here in a Test decider to stop up and be involved in your first start or you first opportunity off the bench.”

Teams for South Africa v Ireland on Saturday, June 25 in Port Elizabeth.

South Africa:

W le Roux, R Combrinck, L Mapoe, D de Allende, JP Pietersen, E Jantjes, F du Klerk; T Mtawarira, A Strauss (captain), F Malherbe, E Etzebeth, P-S du Toit, F Louw, S Kolisi, W Whiteley.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Julian Redelinghuys, Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel, Rudy Paige, Morne Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo.


T O’Halloran, A Trimble, L Marshall, S Olding, K Earls; P Jackson, C Murray, J McGrath, R Best (captain), M Ross, I Henderson, D Toner, CJ Stander, J Murphy, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, F Bealham, T Furlong, U Dillane, R Ruddock, E Reddan, I Madigan, M Healy.

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