Johnny Sexton back in Ireland side to face Australia

Johnny Sexton
Johnny Sexton

Johnny Sexton has returned to Ireland's starting line-up after Joe Schmidt overhauled his team in a bid to stay in contention against Australia.

Sexton was a key component in Ireland's Grand Slam success earlier this year but was surprisingly benched for the first Test in Brisbane.

Beaten 18-9 last weekend, Ireland must win in Melbourne on Saturday to keep their three-match series victory hopes alive.

In an effort to make that happen Schmidt has made eight alterations to his team, which Ireland announced on Thursday. Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, meanwhile, will field an unchanged line-up.

Returning to Ireland's starting XV alongside fly-half Sexton are Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy, while Joey Carbery drops to the sidelines.

Schmidt had justified keeping Sexton on the bench in the first Test because he wanted to give Carbery the best opportunity to shine on the international stage.

Niall Scannell completes the new-look front row alongside Furlong and Healy, while Brisbane starter James Ryan is joined in the second row by Devin Toner.


Second Test - Sky Bet prices
8/11 Australia
Evens Ireland
20/1 Draw


Absent from the team sheet in Queensland, flanker Dan Leavy also returns to the starting line-up in the back row with captain Peter O'Mahony, with CJ Stander unchanged at number eight.

After starting in Brisbane, Conor Murray resumes scrum-half duties, while Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose are brought in as centres.

Andrew Conway takes up Keith Earls's position at 14, while Earls is moved to 11, and first Test starter Rob Kearney lines up at full-back.

Munster's Tadhg Beirne is set for his first cap after being named among the reserves alongside Rob Herring, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Jordan Larmour and Carbery.

Ireland team: Kearney (Leinster), Conway (Munster), Ringrose (Leinster), Henshaw (Leinster), Earls (Munster), Sexton (Leinster), Murray (Munster); Healy (Leinster), Scannell (Munster), Furlong (Leinster), Ryan (Leinster), Toner (Leinster), O'Mahony (Munster), Leavy (Leinster), Stander (Munster).

Replacements: Herring (Ulster), McGrath (Leinster), Porter (Leinster), Beirne (Scarlets), Murphy (Leinster), Cooney (Ulster), Carbery (Leinster), Larmour (Leinster).

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