Ireland vs South Africa: Robert Baloucoune starts for hosts; Robbie Henshaw pulls out; Cheslin Kolbe returns for Springboks
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell names Ulster's Robert Baloucoune in back-three to face Springboks on Saturday (5.30pm kick off); Robbie Henshaw pulls out injured; tune into our live blog coverage of Scotland vs Fiji, Wales vs New Zealand, Ireland vs South Africa from 12.30pm on Saturday
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 04/11/22 1:22pm
Ulster wing Robert Baloucoune will start for Ireland against South Africa on Saturday, in what will be his third Test cap, but centre Robbie Henshaw has pulled out injured.
Andy Farrell's forward pack remains the same from the one that started to face New Zealand in Wellington in July for Ireland's victorious third-Test series decider.
An all-Leinster front-row of Andrew Porter at loosehead, Dan Sheehan at hooker and Tadhg Furlong at tighthead are named, while Munster's Tadhg Beirne partners Leinster's James Ryan again in the second row, with Ulster skipper Iain Henderson (knee) still unavailable for selection.
In the backline, Connacht centre Bundee Aki drops out of the squad owing to his eight-game suspension for a dangerous clear-out at a ruck and his behaviour towards match officials after, with Garry Ringrose and Ulster's Stuart McCloskey partnering each other in midfield, after Henshaw withdrew from the squad on Friday.
McCloskey's most recent cap for Ireland came against the United States in July 2021. "We're very confident about Stuart," coach Paul O'Connell said.
"He's had some tough days (with selection), but he's always stuck with it and never got disheartened. It's brilliant for us, it's all about competition. It broadens the group again for us, we're confident in his ability."
In the back-three, Hugo Keenan starts at full-back despite not playing since July due to knee and abdominal injuries, while Connacht's Mack Hansen starts on the opposite wing to Baloucoune.
Johnny Sexton captains the side from fly-half, while Conor Murray is picked to start ahead of Jamison Gibson-Park at scrum-half - the latter named on the bench after a length absence due to a hamstring injury, with the former winning his 100th Test cap for Ireland.
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Ireland are unable to call upon Henderson, James Lowe (calf), Andrew Conway (knee) and Keith Earls (thigh) due to injuries.
While the likes of centre James Hume, scrum-half Craig Casey, flanker Nick Timoney and No 8 Gavin Coombes are in action for an Ireland A side vs an All Blacks XV on Friday in Dublin, and so are not involved.
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 1 Andrew Porter, 2 Dan Sheehan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 5 James Ryan, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 Caelan Doris.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Jimmy O'Brien.
Did you know?
Ireland and South Africa have not faced each other for five years, having last played in Dublin on November 11, 2017, as Ireland registered a dominant 38-3 success.
The two sides will meet again at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France next September, having been drawn together in Pool B.
Kolbe returns to start for South Africa after three months out
Cheslin Kolbe will play his first Test at full-back when world champions South Africa take on Ireland, as he returns for his first international appearance since suffering a broken jaw in the Springboks' series-clinching win over Wales in July.
Damian Willemse has been selected at fly-half, with head coach Jacques Nienaber also recalling Kurt-Lee Arendse on the right wing in the other change to the starting XV which began September's Rugby Championship win over Argentina.
"We selected a team we believe contains the best combinations to counter the threats posed by Ireland," Nienaber said.
"Damian has done well for us at fly-half, and he is continuing to grow as a player in that role, while we think Cheslin has the potential to add a new dimension to our game at full-back.
"He was sidelined for a while after breaking his jaw against Wales, but he has played four 80-minute matches for Toulon since returning to play, and we are confident that he will step up to the challenge.
"Ireland are the top-ranked team in the world currently and they've shown in the past that they can be a force to be reckoned with in Dublin."
South Africa: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian De Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jordan Hendrikse; 1 Steven Kitshoff, 2 Malcolm Marx, 3 Frans Malherbe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Lood De Jager, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 7 Pieter-Steph Du Toit, 8 Jasper Wiese.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Deon Fourie, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Faf De Klerk, 23 Willie Le Roux.