Match Preview: O’Mahony leads Ireland against Australia

Peter O’Mahony will lead Ireland out against Australia in the first Test of the series at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.

Peter O’Mahony will lead Ireland out against Australia in the first Test of the series at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.

The 2018 NatWest 6 Nations champions will be captained by the Munster flanker in the absence of Rory Best, whilst head coach Joe Schmidt has made six changes to the starting XV who started against England in the final round of this year’s Championship.

Joey Carbery will start at fly-half in place of Jonathan Sexton, who is among the Leinster players Schmidt has chosen to rest, with Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy also among the replacements.

Robbie Henshaw renews his centre partnership with former Connacht team-mate Bundee Aki, Rob Kearney is at full-back and NatWest 6 Nations Player of the Championship Jacob Stockdale resumes on the wing.

Flanker O’Mahony is joined in the back row by Jordi Murphy at openside and CJ Stander at No.8, while James Ryan and Iain Henderson fill the lock positions.

With Best injured, Ulster team-mate Rob Herring starts in the front row alongside Jack McGrath, fresh from Leinster’s Champions Cup and PRO14 double triumph, and Munster’s John Ryan.


Schmidt commented: “One of the things with Joey [Carbery], we really wanted to get him out there at ten at some stage and we thought the best window was to give him the longest preparation.

“We wanted to get the right balance and we thought that it would be an opportunity that would be more difficult to engineer later in the tour.

“It gives Joey an opportunity to slot himself in there, as it also did for John Ryan and Rob Herring, so it’s probably a really good opportunity for some of those people to put their hand up.”

Speaking about O’Mahony, Keith Earls said: “He speaks well during training, he gets his messages across, but I think his main thing is going to be his actions – from kick-off he’s going to go as far and as long as he can.

“The fellas are going to get in behind him and that’s what you want your captain to do, to lead by example, and there’s no better man than him for that.”


Australia, meanwhile, return to the site of last year’s win over the All Blacks – a 23-18 October victory that ended a streak of 15 matches without a win against the New Zealanders.

Australia head coach Michael Chieka keeps ten players in his starting XV from that match but hands debuts to Queensland Reds pair Caleb Timu and Brandon Paenga-Amosa, who start at No.8 and hooker respectively.

Formidable back-row duo Michael Hooper and David Pocock start, whilst the impressive Adam Coleman is at lock – experienced props Sekope Kepu and Scott Sio are in the front row.

Australia’s back line offers plenty of experience and threat, with Will Genia and Bernard Foley in the half-backs, the in-form Israel Folau at full-back and Kurtley Beale at inside centre.

KEY STAT – Ireland head to Brisbane on a 12-game winning streak, which goes back to the fourth match of the 2017 Championship.

Ireland matchday squad for first Test against Australia:

15. Rob Kearney (Leinster) 83 caps 14. Keith Earls (Munster) 67 caps 13. Robbie Henshaw(Leinster) 33 caps 12. Bundee Aki (Connacht) 7 caps 11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster) 9 caps 10. Joey Carbery (Leinster) 10 caps 9. Conor Murray (Munster) 64 caps

1. Jack McGrath (Leinster) 47 caps 2. Rob Herring (Ulster) 3 caps 3. John Ryan (Munster) 13 caps 4. Iain Henderson (Ulster) 38 caps 5. James Ryan (Leinster) 8 caps 6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster) 47 caps (CAPTAIN) 7. Jordi Murphy (Leinster) 20 caps 8. CJ Stander (Munster) 23 caps


16. Sean Cronin (Leinster) 61 caps 17. Cian Healy (Leinster) 78 caps 18. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster) 23 caps 19. Quinn Roux (Connacht) 5 caps 20. Jack Conan (Leinster) 7 caps 21. Kieran Marmion (Connacht) 21 caps 22. Johnny Sexton (Leinster) 73 caps 23. Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 3 caps