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Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sexton to make debut for Ireland

AUTUMN INTERNATIONAL: IRELAND v FIJI
Venue: Royal Dublin Society, Dublin Date: Saturday, 21 November Kick-off: 1715 GMT Coverage: Live coverage on BBC2 NI, BBC Red Button, BBC Radio Ulster MW and the BBC Sport website

Jonathan Sexton
Jonathan Sexton won a European Cup medal with Leinster last season.

Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton will win his first cap in an Ireland side showing eight changes for Saturday's Test against Fiji at the RDS in Dublin.

There are five changes in the backs with Eoin Reddan joining Sexton at half-back, while Gordon D'Arcy, Keith Earls and Shane Horgan also start.

Up front, Ulster's Tom Court gets his chance at loose-head while lock Leo Cullen and Denis Leamy are promoted.

Uncapped hooker Sean Cronin and flanker Sean O'Brien are named on the bench.

Sexton, however, will be relishing the challenge of replacing Ronan O'Gara, particularly on his own turf.

A European Cup winner with Leinster last season, the 24-year-old Dubliner has been knocking on the door of full international status for a while.

He was in the wilderness when he had to play second fiddle to Felipe Contepomi and Isa Nacewa for the number 10 jersey with his province, but came to the fore during Leinster's run to Heineken Cup glory with the Argentine sidelined by injury.

Sexton has four Ireland A caps under his wing after representing his country at Schools' and U21 level.

Tom Court
Ulster's Tom Court makes his second start for Ireland against Fiji.

His Leinster half-back partner Reddan replaces Tomas O'Leary, who reverts to the bench. The former Wasps scrum-half lost his way, and the number nine Ireland jersey, last season but has returned to form after his switch to Dublin.

With Luke Fitzgerald likely to miss the rest of the season, Earls starts on the left wing while Ireland A skipper Horgan comes on to the right wing with Tommy Bowe rested.

Ulster's in-form Andrew Trimble just missed out on selection, but is named on the bench.

D'Arcy, who has not been as prevalent with Leinster this season, joins skipper Brian O'Driscoll in midfield with Paddy Wallace dropping to the bench.

Both Jerry Flannery and John Hayes, who have had limited action this season, remain in the front row with Brisbane-born Court making only his second start for Ireland following his full debut in the defeat by Argentina in Buenos Aires back in 2007.

The Ulsterman was part of Ireland's Grand Slam squad, but had to give way to new cap Cian Healy last week. The young Leinsterman is rested after playing for the full 80 minutes last week against Australia.

The last of 31-year-old Cullen's 19 caps was also against Argentina back in 2007 and he replaces Donncha O'Callaghan, who drops to the bench.

Leamy is the only change in the back row where David Wallace is rested with Jamie Healsip remaining at number eight and Stephen Ferris at blind-side.

Meanwhile, Fiji have included Ulster winger Timoci Nagusa among their replacements after the player arrived on Monday from Fiji where he was holidaying with his pregnant wife.


Ireland: R Kearney; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll, capt, G D'Arcy, K Earls; J Sexton, E Reddan; T Court, J Flannery, J Hayes, L Cullen, P O'Connell, S Ferris, D Leamy, J Heaslip.
Replacements: S Cronin, T Buckley, D O'Callaghan, S O'Brien, T O'Leary, P Wallace, A Trimble.

Fiji: N Ligairi; V Goneva, G Lovobalavu, S Baikeinuku, N Roko; N Little, M Rauluni; A Tarogi, V Veikoso, V Seuseu; W Lewaravu, I Rawaqa; A Satala, A Qera, A Boko.
Replacements: I Ledua, G Dewes, L Nakarawa, S Bola, W Vatuvoka, J Matavesi, T Nagusa.



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see also
Ireland 20-20 Australia
15 Nov 09 |  Irish
O'Driscoll praises Irish attitude
15 Nov 09 |  Irish
Ireland v Australia photos
15 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Ireland v Australia as it happened
15 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Kidney has faith in his front row
12 Nov 09 |  Irish
Prop Healy wins first Ireland cap
11 Nov 09 |  Irish
Hayes ban reduced to five weeks
13 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union
England 9-18 Australia
07 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Horan out of Ireland autumn games
06 Nov 09 |  Irish
Henry called into Ireland squad
27 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union


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