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Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Ireland start Murphy at full-back

Venue: Croke Park Date: Saturday, 22 November Kick-off: 1445 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Ulster MW and BBC Sport website, with live text commentary on the BBC Sport website


Murphy prepared for tough comeback

Geordan Murphy has come in from the cold after Ireland coach Declan Kidney made three changes for the Saturday's crucial clash with Argentina in Dublin.

It will be Murphy's first involvement this autumn as he takes over from Leinster Girvan Dempsey at full-back.

Blind-side flanker Stephen Ferris replaces the suspended Alan Quinlan but the Munster player could still make the bench if an IRFU appeal is upheld.

The other change up front sees Jerry Flannery replace Rory Best at hooker.

Both Best and lock Paul O'Connell came through fitness tests on leg injuries and Kidney has no hesitation in naming them.

Ireland's record cap holder Malcolm O'Kelly will have a chance to extend his haul of 91 appearances as he has been named on the bench.

Kidney went without a lock on the bench against the All Blacks with regular flanker Ferris stepping into the breach when O'Connell limped off midway through the second half.


Murphy, meanwhile, will be winning his 59th cap and comes in for his first start at full-back since facing England in the Six Nations last March.

He had played on both wings earlier in the campaign and was only on the bench during Ireland's summer tour Down Under.

Quinlan received a three-match suspension on Wednesday after he was cited for an alleged stamp on All Black number eight Rodney So'oialo during Saturday's 22-3 defeat at Croke Park. Quinlan's appeal will be heard on Friday.

World Cup seeding at stake - O'Driscoll

Argentina are without the injured Felipe Contepomi who has a hand infection so Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe captains the side.

Kidney has already warned his players to forget last Saturday and concentrate on the visit of the Pumas - particularly with IRB rankings at a delicate stage.

Ireland need to defeat the Pumas or they could be overhauled by Scotland for a second-tier World Cup seeding.

"We were very disappointed on Saturday night, but we have a huge game on Saturday and remaining in the top eight is now in our own hands," said Kidney.

"We will be trying to beat a team that is ranked above us and we have not done that for a while."

Scotland's 14-10 defeat by South Africa on Saturday not only prevented them from leapfrogging Ireland into eighth place in the IRB rankings but increased the margin between the sides from 0.26 to 0.42 of a ranking point.

Assuming Scotland defeat Canada at the weekend, Ireland must also win, or defeat would result in losing 0.73 of a ranking point and propelling Scotland into eighth place.

Ulster's  Stephen Ferris
Ulster's big powerful forward Stephen Ferris starts at blindside flanker
That would mean Ireland would be lumped alongside the third tier nations going into the draw for the 2011 World Cup which takes place on 1 December in London.

So Kidney must use all of his mystical psychological powers to lift his side for another date with destiny against Argentina who have been the scourge of the Irish on a number of occasions.

Kidney said the team could "sob" for an hour or two, but they had to "cop on" and be ready for the next challenge.

It is a big challenge at that, having lost 12 times in 18 outings against the South Americans who have returned into the top four in the IRB rankings list following their win over Italy at the weekend.

The main blueprint for the World Cup draw is:

As in 2007, there will be four pools of five teams in New Zealand.

The top three bands in each pool will be filled by the 12 pre-qualified teams from the last RWC.

The 12 pre-qualified teams are: Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga and Wales.

Band 1: Top four IRB ranked teams
Band 2: Next four ranked qualified teams (Ranked 5 to 8)
Band 3: Bottom four ranked qualified teams (Ranked 9-12).

Ireland: G Murphy; Bowe, B O'Driscoll, Fitzgerald, Kearney; O'Gara, O'Leary; Horan, Flannery, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, Ferris, D Wallace, Heaslip.
Replacements: R Best, Buckley, O'Kelly, TBA, Reddan, P Wallace, Earls.

Argentina: A Agulla; F Leonelli, F Martin Aramburu, M Avramovic, R Carballo; J-M Hernandez, N Vergallo; R Roncero, M Ledesma, J P Orlandi; R Alvarez Kairelis, P Albacete; M Durand, J-M Fernandez, J-M Leguizamon.
Replacements: A Vernet Basualdo, M Ayerza, E Lozada, A Galindo, A Figuerola, S Fernandez, B Stortoni.

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see also
Argentina change five for Ireland
20 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
All Blacks forced into one change
20 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Autumn Tests - as they happened
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 3-22 New Zealand
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Italy 14-22 Argentina
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
International photos
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
O'Driscoll eyes All Blacks scalp
12 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
NZ make 11 changes for Irish game
11 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 55-0 Canada
08 Nov 08 |  Irish
France 12-6 Argentina
08 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union

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Sporting Life WAITING GAME FOR KIDNEY - 37 hrs ago
Sky Sports Ireland announcement delayed - 40 hrs ago
The Times Quinlan hearing delays Ireland selection - 48 hrs ago
The Times Alan Quinlan hearing delays Ireland selection - 58 hrs ago
Sky Sports Ireland wait on injury news - 62 hrs ago


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