Luke Fitzgerald starts at inside centre; Healy on the bench

Luke Fitzgerald starts at inside centre; Healy on the bench

Head coach Joe Schmidt has named a strong starting XV for Ireland’s opening match of the Rugby World Cup.

Cian Healy has finally been declared fully fit but if he plays a part against Canada it will be from the bench, where he has been named among the replacements.

Luke Fitzgerald starts at inside centre; Healy on the bench

Instead Jack McGrath starts at loosehead prop, alongside hooker Rory Best and tighthead Mike Ross. Paul O’Connell will captain the side on Saturday afternoon and is joined by Iain Henderson in the second row.

Jamie Heaslip starts at number eight and is flanked by fellow Leinster man Sean O’Brien and Munster’s Peter O’Mahony.

Rob Kearney returns to the full-back position, with brother Dave alongside him on the right wing and Keith Earls on the left.

There have been reports today that Robbie Henshaw is nursing a hamstring injury and he is not named in the matchday squad. Luke Fitzgerald comes in at inside centre to partner Jared Payne.

As expected, Jonny Sexton starts at ten and is joined in the half-backs by Conor Murray.

Canada Head Coach Kieran Crowley has also named his starting team for Saturday’s match.

Ireland team: R Kearney, D Kearney (both Leinster), J Payne (Ulster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), J McGrath (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster), P O’Connell (capt), P O’Mahony (both Munster), S O’Brien, J Heaslip (both Leinster).

Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy (both Leinster), N White (Connacht), D Ryan (Munster), C Henry (Ulster), E Reddan, I Madigan (both Leinster), S Zebo (Munster).

Canada team:15. Matt Evans (Cornish Pirates), 14. Jeff Hassler (Ospreys), 13. Ciaran Hearn (Unattached/Atlantic Rock), 12. Nick Blevins (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack), 11. DTH van der Merwe (Scarlets), 10. Nathan Hirayama (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears), 9. Gordon McRorie (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack); 1. Hubert Buydens (Unattached/Prairie Wolf Pack),2. Ray Barkwill (Unattached/Ontario Blues), 3. Doug Wooldridge (Lindsay RFC/Ontario Blues), 4. Brett Beukeboom (Cornish Pirates), 5. Jamie Cudmore (Clermont Auvergne) (capt), 6. Kyle Gilmour (Rotherham Titans/Prairie Wolf Pack), 7. John Moonlight (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues), 8. Aaron Carpenter (Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues).

Replacements: 16. Benoit Piffero (Unattached/Atlantic Rock), 17. Djustice Sears-Duru (Oakville Crusaders/Ontario Blues), 18. Andrew Tiedemann (Unattached/Prairie Wolf Pack), 19. Jebb Sinclair (London Irish/Atlantic Rock), 20. Richard Thorpe (London Welsh), 21. Phil Mack (James Bay AA/BC Bears), 22. Liam Underwood (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues), 23. Conor Trainor (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears).

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