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Ireland makes 4 changes for Australia match

Updated: September 13, 2011, 23:04


AUCKLAND, New Zealand(AP) Sean O'Brien has been picked at openside flanker among four changes to the Ireland lineup for its key Pool C Rugby World Cup match against Australia.

Rob Kearney, Cian Healy and Eoin Reddan are the other new starters picked selected Wednesday by Ireland head coach Declan Kidney following his side's unconvincing 22-10 win over the United States last weekend.

Gordon D'Arcy and captain Brian O'Driscoll were retained and are set to play their 45th international together in the centers, breaking the world record.

D'Arcy and O'Driscoll currently share the record of 44 matches paired in the centers with England's Jeremy Guscott and Will Carling.

O'Brien is returning from a knee injury which has kept him out of the Ireland lineup since Aug. 20. Kearney has not played for a month because of a groin strain and will play fullback in place of Geordan Murphy.

Healy, a prop, is returning after recovering from an eye injury suffered in a match against England nearly three weeks ago.

"The players coming back will bring freshness to the team,'' Kidney said. "If you play the same team week in, week out, it becomes difficult for everybody. I didn't think Sean, Rob or Healy were as fit as they needed to be to play against the USA last week so they got another week under their belts.''

Kidney said hooker Jerry Flannery, who has been named on the bench for Saturday's match at Eden Park, will undergo a scan on a calf injury sustained in training. Sean Cronin is on standby if Flannery is not able to take his place in the reserves.

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Ireland: Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll (captain), Gordon D'Arcy, Keith Earls, Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, Stephen Ferris, Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan, Mike Ross, Rory Best, Cian Healy. Reserves: Jerry Flannery, Tom Court, Donnacha Ryan, Denis Leamy, Conor Murray, Ronan O'Gara, Andrew Trimble.

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