DUBLIN (Reuters) – Sean O’Brien returned to the Ireland team for the first time since last November as coach Joe Schmidt on Thursday retained only two players from the side who beat Italy for Saturday’s test against Argentina in Dublin.
Jordan Larmour, who scored three tries in the 54-7 mauling of the Italians in Chicago, stays at full back and left wing Jacob Stockdale also plays again in a significantly strengthened Irish side.
British and Irish Lions flanker O’Brien, 31, last turned out for the national team in the 28-19 win over the Pumas 12 months ago but has been blighted by hip and shoulder injuries since.
The 21-year-old Larmour has another chance to show his talent after a man-of-the-match showing last week.
“This game is very much a step up for him but he has given us confidence of pretty big test matches where he has come into the game late,” Ireland coach Joe Schmidt told a news conference.
“He is a ball of energy from back there and that gets other people energised and hopefully he can maintain that throughout the game.”
Rob Kearney, who has a shoulder injury, and Garry Ringrose, who had a hip problem, are rested but available for next weekend’s clash against world champions New Zealand.
“Both trained well today but we didn’t want to go into an Argentine test match with guys who aren’t fully fit,” Schmidt said.
“They have recovered but at the start of the week they weren’t and you are running to make sure everything is cohesive as possible, particularly as we only trained on Tuesday and Thursday.”
Ireland team: 15-Jordan Larmour, 14-Keith Earls, 13-Robbie Henshaw, 12-Bundee Aki, 11-Jacob Stockdale, 10-Jonathan Sexton, 9-Kieran Marmion, 8-CJ Stander, 7-Sean O’Brien, 6-Peter O’Mahony, 5-James Ryan, 4-Iain Henderson, 3-Tadhg Furlong, 2-Rory Best (captain), 1-Cian Healy
Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-Jack McGrath, 18-Andrew Porter, 19-Devin Toner, 20-Dan Leavy, 21-Luke McGrath, 22-Joey Carbery, 23-Andrew Conway.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson, Editing byEd Osmond)