O’Mahony to lead Irish, Sexton benched for Test opener
IRELAND coach Joe Schmidt has left champion playmaker Johnny Sexton on the bench and trusted his former Leinster teammate Joey Carbery to run the show in the first Test against the Wallabies on Saturday in Brisbane.
Sexton, along with fellow British and Irish Lion Tadhg Furlong, will come off the bench, while star centre Garry Ringrose has been left out completely after a taxing season with Leinster where the trio recently completed the double by winning the Pro14 and European Champions Cup.
Carbery, who was Sexton's deputy at Leinster but recently signed with Munster in search of more game time, has been backed by Kiwi coach Schmidt to guide Ireland in what shapes as an intriguing first encounter against the fourth ranked nation in the world.
Schmidt had always planned on using the three match series against the Wallabies as an opportunity to build his squad's depth with the World Cup only 15 months away.
With regular captain Rory Best left at home because of a niggling hamstring injury, flanker Peter O'Mahony will captain Ireland.
O'Mahony captained the Lions in their first Test defeat to the All Blacks at Eden Park last year.
Gun halfback Conor Murray has been named and his presence will help Carbery in just his 11th Test and third start.
Experienced midfielder Robbie Henshaw returns to the side in Ringrose's absence and will be partnered by Bundee Aki, who started all five matches during Ireland's victorious Six Nations campaign.
Schmidt has named his regular back three with Rob Kearney at fullback and Keith Earls and Jacob Stockdale on the wings.
The front row is completely changed from Ireland's most recent game - the grand slam win over England at Twickenham - with Jack McGrath, Rob Herring and John Ryan to start.
Hard working lock Iain Henderson is in the second row with James Ryan, while Jordi Murphy comes into the team at openside flanker in a back row that also includes O'Mahony and another Lion in CJ Stander.
Joining Sexton on the bench are Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Furlong, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion and Jordan Larmour.
Ireland (15-1): Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Joey Carbery, Conor Murray, CJ Stander, Jordi Murphy, Peter O'Mahony (c), James Ryan, Iain Henderson, John Ryan, Rob Herring, Jack McGrath. Reserves: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion, Johnny Sexton, Jordan Larmour