JOEY CARBERY IS set for a key role for Ireland on Saturday against Fiji in Dublin, with the Munster man vying to step into the number 10 shirt.
Head coach Andy Farrell is expected to make plenty of changes to the side that beat South Africa last weekend, with that first autumn test having been a hugely physical encounter.
However, Tadhg Furlong will return to Ireland after getting rid of his ankle problem and the Wexford man will captain the side for the first time.
Furlong’s milestone achievement comes with Johnny Sexton expected to be rested this weekend after a 77-minute shift against the Springboks in which he suffered a dead leg.
This means Carbery is expected to wear the number 10 shirt after his brief substitute appearance last weekend. The Munster man also came off the bench in all three Tests in the Summer Series win in New Zealand. His most recent start for Ireland came against Italy in the Six Nations earlier this year.
With Carbery set to be promoted to the starting XV, Munster team-mate Jack Crowley is set to make his Test debut on the bench.
The 22-year-old has enjoyed a sudden rise in the Irish frame, having been third-choice at half-time at Munster last season. The Cork man impressed on the recent Emerging Ireland tour and also provided energy off the bench for Ireland A against the All Blacks XV last weekend.
Like Furlong, Ulster center Stuart McCloskey is set to overcome an arm injury and start in the number 12 shirt for Ireland against the Fijians. It will be interesting to see if Farrell backs Jimmy O’Brien to start at outside center after his impressive performance there on the bench last weekend.
Of course, Robbie Henshaw returned to training this week after a hamstring problem ruled him out of the game against South Africa and the Leinster man could line up at 13 if he was. called. Garry Ringrose started there last weekend.
Furlong could be joined in the front row by Ulster hooker Rob Herring, while Cian Healy and Jeremy Loughman battled for the loose prop spot with Andrew Porter expected to be rested.
Ulster’s Kieran Treadwell is hoping for a second-tier starting chance, while Farrell could be tempted to give Iain Henderson some game time after recovering from a knee injury to return to Ireland to train in the next few weeks. last two weeks. Connacht uncapped lock Gavin Thornbury has also been called up to the main senior squad this week.
In the back row, Jack Conan is expected to start at number eight, while Ulster’s Nick Timoney is also expected to be included. Connacht man Cian Prendergast and Leinster duo Max Deegan and Scott Penny also featured this week, after Josh van der Flier, Peter O’Mahony and Caelan Doris started against the Springboks.
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If Farrell opts to rest Jamison Gibson-Park after his longer-than-expected return from injury last weekend, Munster man Craig Casey could be given the green light to start at scrum-half, with Connacht’s Caolin Blade also hoping an opportunity.
While Farrell could opt to give Robert Baloucoune another start on the right wing after he was deprived of attacking opportunities last weekend, the Irish boss could bring Ulster man Mike Lowry to the back.
Ireland can choose between Jacob Stockdale, O’Brien, Mack Hansen and uncapped Calvin Nash for the other wing slot.
Farrell is to officially name his 23rd day for the Fiji clash tomorrow afternoon.
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