Rugby

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt gives Ross Byrne chance to compete for RWC spot

AFP-JIJI

Ross Byrne has the chance to book his place on the plane to Japan for the Rugby World Cup as he starts at fly-half for Ireland in its warm-up test with England on Saturday.

The 24-year-old Leinster playmaker is competing with Jack Carty to be the third option to first choice Johnny Sexton with regular backup Joey Carbery battling to recover from an ankle injury.

Ireland’s first match in Japan is on Sept. 22 against Scotland.

Byrne, who will win his third cap, will be partnered at Twickenham by first choice scrum-half Conor Murray as coach Joe Schmidt selected a strong starting XV.

Veterans such as fullback Rob Kearney, flanker Peter O’Mahony and prop Cian Healy return to a much changed starting lineup to the one that beat Italy 29-10 in its first warm-up match earlier this month.

Schmidt has selected Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose in the centers.

Grizzled hooker Rory Best, who like Schmidt will step down after the World Cup, also returns to captain the side.

South Africa-born lock Jean Kleyn is one of the few to start for the second successive match as he teams up with Iain Henderson in the second row.

Schmidt, though, has decided to rest Sexton and other first-team regulars, wing Keith Earls and lock James Ryan.

The Irish follow the England game with a doubleheader against this year’s Six Nations Grand Slam winner Wales, in Cardiff on Aug. 31 and then Dublin on Sept. 7.

Ireland selections

Rob Kearney; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Ross Byrne, Conor Murray; CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Peter O’Mahony; Jean Kleyn, Iain Henderson; Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best (captain), Cian Healy

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Tadhg Beirne, Luke McGrath, Jack Carty, Andrew Conway

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