Ireland v Japan: 12 Leinster players in lineup as Sexton starts 100th Test

Ireland v Japan: 12 Leinster players in lineup as Sexton starts 100th Test

Autumn internationals: Ireland v Japan

Kick-off: 1pm, Saturday. Venue: Aviva Stadium. How to follow: The Irish Times liveblog will begin at 12.15pm. On TV: Live on RTÉ2.

As forecast, Johnny Sexton will be partnered by Jamison Gibson-Park on the occasion of his 100th test for his country in a starting XV featuring a dozen Leinster players when Ireland host Japan at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

The matchday squad also features the uncapped 23-year-old Leinster hooker Dan Sheehan, who has been named on the bench, after benefitting from Ronan Kelleher’s delayed return post-Lions to showcase his dynamic ball-carrying game.

There are nine changes form the starting lineup for last July’s entertaining 39-31 win over the Brave Blossoms, when Ireland were missing their Lions contingent and three others were rested, including Sexton.

Hugo Keenan, starting his 14th successive Test and his first in front of a sizeable attendance, and Gibson-Park are the only survivors in the back line, with Ronan Kelleher, James Ryan, Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris, who switches from number 8 to blindside, retained up front.

James Lowe, Caelan Doris and Iain Henderson during Ireland training. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Farrell and his assistants have favoured those with more game time in this shorter lead-in to the autumn series. James Lowe, sidelined through injury in July, and Andrew Conway are on the wings after starting three games apiece this season, while in the absence of Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose are partnered together in midfield.

Andrew Porter starts his first Test at loosehead after reverting to that side of the scrum this season, with Tadhg Furlong restored at tighthead. A fellow Lion, Tadhg Beirne, partners Ryan in the second-row while another Lions, Jack Conan, completes an all-Leinster back-row.

Despite switching over to tighthead this season with Leinster, Cian Healy covers his more familiar loosehead position off the bench, while Finlay Bealham covers tighthead.

Iain Henderson, restricted to an hour for Ulster on his seasonal re-appearance against Connacht at the Aviva a fortnight ago, is named on a fairly experienced bench, allowing for the presence of Sheehan, as is Conor Murray after being confined to one 20 minute appearance off the bench.

He is joined among the replacements by another trio of Munster players in Peter O’Mahony, Joey Carbery and Keith Earls.

IRELAND: Hugo Keenan

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