Ireland v New Zealand: Jonathan Sexton passed fit for All Blacks test
Jonathan Sexton has been named in the Ireland team to take on New Zealand in Dublin on Sunday.
Last Updated: 22/11/13 11:36pm
The fly-half suffered a hamstring injury during last weekend's defeat to Australia but took full part in training on Friday.
And coach Joe Schmidt has decided Sexton, Brian O'Driscoll (calf) and Rob Kearney (rib) are all fit to start in the Irish back-line at the Aviva Stadium against an All Blacks side aiming to finish the calendar year unbeaten.
Full-back Kearney will be joined in an Ireland staring line-up for the first time by brother Dave, who has been named on the wing in place of the injured Fergus McFadden following his two try debut against Samoa earlier this month.
Gordon D'Arcy replaces Luke Marshall at centre, while Conor Murray comes in for Eoin Reddan at scrum-half.
Ireland's pack is unchanged from the eight who started against Australia but, admitting Ulster's Paddy Jackson would have started in Sexton's absence, Schmidt said Ian Madigan's versatility once again won him the seat on the bench.
Schmidt said: "All three (Sexton, O'Driscoll and Kearney) took full part in training and Rob trained well on Wednesday.
"Really it was just a case of getting them all on the training pitch together, confirming they could run and kick fully and, therefore, play.
"If Johnny didn't take the pitch then Paddy Jackson would have started at 10.
"We would have had confidence in Paddy, but we've got confidence in Johnny with the leadership qualities and that tips the balance.
"Again it's coverage with Ian Madigan.
"If we get an injury to someone like D'Arcy it gives more flexibility.
"At this stage Paddy plays 10 and he doesn't play other positions.
"Gordon D'Arcy gives us the experience. Earlier in the week we weren't sure whether Johnny would make it, so it would have been important to have some experience around Paddy Jackson, and so that almost made that decision for us."
Ireland: R Kearney, Bowe, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, D Kearney, Sexton, Murray, Healy, Best, Ross, Toner, O'Connell, O'Mahony, O'Brien, Heaslip
Replacements: Cronin, McGrath, Fitzpatrick, McCarthy, McLaughlin, Boss, Madigan, Fitzgerald