Jackson starts at 10 for Ireland

Joe Schmidt has named his Ireland side to face Samoa on Saturday, with Paddy Jackson named at fly half.

The young Ulsterman has been in fine form this season and starts ahead of Leinster’s Ian Madigan, with Jonny Sexton resting a stiff hip after playing for Racing Metro at the weekend.

Paul O’Connell has been named as the squad captain but he will be on the bench alongside fellow British and Irish Lions Cian Healy and Sean O’Brien as they all come back from injury, Jamie Heaslip therefore captains the side from number eight.

Joining Heaslip in the back row are Chris Henry and Peter O’Mahony, while Devon Toner and Mike McCarthy start in the second row in the absence of O’Connell and Donnacha Ryan.

Brian O’Driscoll starts at outside centre despite only playing 70 minutes of rugby this season due to a calf injury. He is paired with Gordon D’Arcy meaning that the two will retake the crown of the most capped centre partnership from Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Fergus McFadden and Tommy Bowe start on the wings with Rob Kearney at full back. Kearney’s younger brother David is in line to make his debut, he starts on the bench.

One player who will definitely make his debut is Jack McGrath, he steps in at loosehead with his Leinster colleague Cian Healy recovering from injury on the bench.

One who has fully overcome his injury problems is Rory Best. He starts at hooker with Sean Cronin ready to make an impact from the bench. Mike Ross completes the front row and Declan Fitpatrick covers him on the bench.

Connor Murray gets the nod at scrum half ahead of Eoin Reddan. It is a strong looking side considering the injury toll that the squad has seen. Keith Earls, Simon Zebo, Richardt Strauss, Iain Henderson, and Donnacha Ryan are all out of contention through injury, while Best and O’Driscoll have been doubts and Healy, O’Connell and O’Brien have only just recovered in time for bench duty.

Ireland v Samoa kick off, Saturday 17.45. BBC 2 Northern Ireland

Ireland XV:

15. Rob Kearney; 14. Tommy Bowe, 13. Brian O’Driscoll, 12. Gordon D’Arcy, 11. Fergus McFadden; 10. Paddy Jackson, 9. Connor Murray; 1. Jack McGrath, 2. Rory Best, 3. Mike Ross; 4. Mike McCarthy, 5. Devon Toner; 6. Peter O’Mahony, 7. Chris Henry, 8. Jamie Heaslip (captain).

Replacements: 16. Sean Cronin, 17. Cian Healy, 18. Declan Fitzpatrick, 19. Paul O’Connell, 20. Sean O’Brien, 21. Eoin Reddan, 22. Ian Madigan, 23. David Kearney.

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