Search icon


06th Nov 2014

Start of new era as Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw form Irish midfield

Gordon D'Arcy makes way as Joe Schmidt has made seven changes ahead of Saturday's Springboks clash

Patrick McCarry

Joe Schmidt is rolling the dice on a new centre partnership that could lead Ireland towards the World Cup. The Irish coach has paired Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne in a new-look backline that is a mix of necessity and invention.

Gordon D’Arcy sat out a couple of training drills last week but is not included in the match-day squad since returning back to training. Schmidt cited a calf strain as the reason the Leinster veteran misses out.

D’Arcy vacates the inside centre spot to 21-year-old Henshaw, who has played just once in that position for Connacht this season (Exeter Chiefs away). Schmidt said, ‘Gordon was injured last week. He is probably back to full fitness now but we weren’t sure of that at the start of the week… We felt we were part way along the pathway of something really positive.’ Payne becomes the third recipient of the No 13 jersey since Brian O’Driscoll’s retirement. Darren Cave and Fergus McFadden were tested in Argentina but Schmidt is eager to give Irish-qualified Payne a November run in the role.

Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe are named on the wings with Rob Kearney at fullback and half-backs Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray back in tandem. The backs have Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan and Munster fullback Felix Jones in reserve.

Robbie Henshaw and Rodney Ah You 4/11/2014

The Irish front row is a much changed unit due to injuries to Cian Healy and Rory Best. Jack McGrath and Sean Cronin fill the respective loose-head and hooking slots and are joined by Leinster team-mate Mike Ross. Devin Toner and Paul O’Connell resume their second row partnership while Peter O’Mahony is accompanied in the Irish back row by Chris Henry and Jamie Heaslip. Connacht prop Rodney Ah You is included as replacement tight-head.

South Africa named their team on Wednesday. It is unchanged from the side that defeated the All Blacks in Johannesburg last month.

IRELAND team to play South Africa

(Backs) 15. Rob Kearney; 14. Tommy Bowe, 13. Jared Payne, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Simon Zebo; 10. Johnny Sexton, 9. Conor Murray;

(Forwards) 1. Jack McGrath, 2. Sean Cronin, 3. Mike Ross; 4. Devin Toner, 5. Paul O’Connell (c); 6. Peter O’Mahony, 7. Chris Henry, 8. Jamie Heaslip

Replacements (16-23): Richardt Strauss, Dave Kilcoyne, Rodney Ah You, Mike McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Felix Jones.

WATCH: Liverpool BOTTLED the title race 🤬 | Who will win the Premier League?