Ireland pick their “Best” team for the Springboks

Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan has named Rory Best in his starting line-up for the first time for Saturday’s Test against South Africa at Lansdowne Road. The Ulster front row man has come on as replacement four times before and starts this time for injured hooker Jerry Flannery.

Girvan Dempsey and Neil Best started Ireland’s last game against Australia in June and their form sees them push out Geordan Murphy and Simon Easterby.

“There was a lot of pressure for places,” O’Sullivan told the BBC.

“Players were pushing for places throughout the side. It’s a good competitive pressure for everybody and plenty of options on the bench as well.”

Ireland’s most-capped player Malcolm O’Kelly can only find a place on the bench after missing Ireland’s tour down under.

Munster’s Donncha O’Callaghan keeps his place beside his provincial team mate Paul O’Connell.

“I think we can get a bit carried away,” said O’Sullivan. “South Africa won their last two Tests against New Zealand and Australia and it looks as if they will pick an enormous and physical side.

“All their back five are above 6ft 4in and they have also some very exciting young backs to throw into the mix.

“We cannot forget that we are playing against South Africa and our record is not exactly great against them. That win in 2004 was the first in nearly 40 years. So that’s what we are up against.”

The last time Paul Honiss (New Zealand) refereed these two teams he told SA captain John Smit to talk to his players and when Smit turned his back O Gara ran in for a match winning try.

The last time Honiss reffed SA it was this year in Australia and SA lost 49-0.


G Dempsey; S Horgan, B O’Driscoll (capt), G D’Arcy, A Trimble; R O’Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, R Best, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell; N Best, D Wallace, D Leamy.
Replacements: F Sheahan, B Young, M O’Kelly, S Easterby, I Boss, P Wallace, G Murphy.

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