Rugby Joe Schmidt makes 11 changes as Johnny Sexton and Jordi Murphy start against Russia

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Rugby Johnny Sexton believes the loss to Japan gives Ireland time to work on things (Paul Harding/PA)
Johnny Sexton believes the loss to Japan gives Ireland time to work on things (Paul Harding/PA)

JOE SCHMIDT will call on Johnny Sexton for Thursday’s now all-important Pool A clash with Russia. The out-half will lead the side from the start for the first time, despite the fact his co-vice captain Peter O’Mahony is also selected.

Ireland need to bounce back from their shock 19-12 defeat to Japan by beating the Bears and securing a try-scoring bonus point at the sweltering Kobe Misaki Stadium that last night played host to Scotland’s 34-0 victory over Samoa which keeps them in the hunt for the quarter-finals.

Schmidt has made 11 changes to the team that lost 19-12 to Japan last Saturday with Jordi Murphy coming straight into the starting XV at No 8.

The Ulster back-row replaced the injured Jack Conan who fractured his foot in training last week and now has a golden opportunity to play his way into a struggling team.

Robbie Henshaw is not fit enough to play, meaning Garry Ringrose starts his third successive match at this World Cup at outside centre. The centre was also involved in all four of Ireland’s warm-ups.

Ireland hope to be able to call on Henshaw for their final pool match against the Samoans on S

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