Ireland bring in Gibson-Park for epic Pool B showdown with South Africa

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Ireland bring in Gibson-Park for epic Pool B showdown with South Africa
Gibson-Park scoring a try against Romania
Gibson-Park scoring a try against Romania
Reuters
Ireland named scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park (31) as their only change for the crunch Rugby World Cup Pool B clash with South Africa in Paris on Saturday as coach Andy Farrell selected an unchanged pack with a 5-3 split between forwards and backs on the bench.

The fixture is expected to go a long way to deciding who finishes top of the group and the winning side, if there is to be one, will have one foot in the quarter-finals.

It is also a meeting between the two top-ranked teams in the world, with Ireland looking to hold onto their place at the summit, earned on the back of a superb run of 15 wins in a row.

Johnny Sexton will lead the side from fly-half alongside Gibson-Park, who is the only change from the team that defeated Tonga 59-16 in their previous game.

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton with coach Andy Farrell
Reuters

Conor Murray drops to the bench as one of three backline options among the replacements along with flyhalf Jack Crowley and centre Robbie Henshaw.

South Africa's decision to choose seven forwards on the bench was never likely to change Ireland's plans but could be a factor in the final 20 minutes if they hold the physical edge and are able to produce greater speed at the breakdown.

Mack Hansen and James Lowe will be the two Ireland wings, Hugo Keenan is at full-back and Bundee Aki will win a 50th cap at centre as part of a midfield that also includes Garry Ringrose.

Hooker Ronan Kelleher will have props Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong on either side of him and the second row contains Tadhg Beirne and James Ryan.

Caelan Doris is at number eight with Peter O’Mahony and Josh van der Flier the two flankers.

Hooker Dan Sheehan has recovered from injury to be named among the replacements for what would be his World Cup debut.

Ireland beat South Africa 19-16 when the teams last met in Dublin in November and have won seven of the last 11 against the Springboks.

Somewhat surprisingly this will be the first meeting between the two teams at a World Cup.

Ireland Team: 

15-Hugo Keenan, 14-Mack Hansen, 13-Garry Ringrose, 12-Bundee Aki, 11-James Lowe, 10-Johnny Sexton, 9-Jamison Gibson-Park, 1-Andrew Porter, 2-Ronan Kelleher, 3-Tadhg Furlong, 4-Tadhg Beirne, 5-James Ryan, 6-Peter O’Mahony, 7-Josh van der Flier, 8-Caelan Doris

Replacements: 16-Dan Sheehan, 17-David Kilcoyne, 18-Finlay Bealham, 19-Iain Henderson, 20-Ryan Baird, 21-Conor Murray, 22-Jack Crowley, 23-Robbie Henshaw

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