Johnny Sexton gets the opportunity to demonstrate that his World Cup gym since he’ll begin at fly-half at Ireland’s clash with Wales on Saturday.
The Irish and British Lions playmaker has battled with leg and thumb injuries all summertime, missing Ireland’s three World Cup warm-up fixtures so far.
The 34-year-old has not tasted Test activity since the 25-7 loss of Ireland to Wales in the Six Nations in March that sealed the Grand Slam to the side of Warren Gatland.
Sexton will be back in harness with his Lions half-back spouse Conor Murray using their Pool A opener against Scotland approaching on September 22, for the final World Cup warm-up of Ireland.
Robbie Henshaw creates his first start of the warm-up effort, slotting in at outside center to associate his Connacht team-mate Bundee Aki in a pairing that is robust.
Jack Conan is pushing for a starting berth against Scotland and has yet another chance.
Assistant coach Andy Farrell insisted Henshaw, Murray and Sexton are all fully fit and ready to begin cracking.
“Raring to go, they’ve been held for at least a couple weeks and can not wait for going this weekend.
“We are after a functionality we’re proud of, along with it now being Rory Best and Joe Schmidt’s last games at the Aviva. But we’ve also got to take the right mental attitude moving ahead into Japan.”
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 1 Cian Healy, 2 Rory Best (c), 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 James Ryan, 5 Jean Kleyn, 6 CJ Stander, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 Jack Conan
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Garry Ringrose
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