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Bundee Aki to make Ireland debut against South Africa

Bundee Aki to make Ireland debut against South Africa”

Earls, who had been in flying form since Ireland's summer tour to the United States and Japan, picked up the injury in training on Tuesday, with another in-form Munster wing, Andrew Conway, moving onto the right wing for his fourth cap and Ulster's Jacob Stockdale named by head coach Joe Schmidt on the left wing for the 21-year-old's third start in green after a try-scoring debut against the U.S. in June.

Aki, New Zealand-born and of Samoan descent, has been thrust into immediate test action after completing his three-year Ireland residency qualification.

Reserve back Darren Sweetnam could make his test debut.

The Connacht centre has been named in Joe Schmidt's team for the first time, while it will be Stockdale's first home game.

Schmidt deflected criticism of Aki being selected, saying: "Sometimes where you are born is less relevant than where you have invested over recent years and Bundee has done that in the west for Connacht".

"Keith picked up the injury on Tuesday, and it was a surprise to him and us", said Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.

"They have benefited from his experience, his commitment and his durability".

"It's an unfortunate distraction".

"It gave me the confidence that he liked what I was doing, that he felt I was doing a good job".

"There's no question in the group's mind".

"If Joe had wanted to make a change of captain, he would have made the change", said Best, who has shaken off a hamstring problem to lead Ireland in their autumn Test opener against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday - live on Sky Sports.

Ireland play Fiji and Argentina on 18 and 25 November respectively.

Rob Kearney will start at full-back in his first Test since the Six Nations, while Cian Healy will step up to start with Jack McGrath having picked up a knock in training.

"But what a fantastic chance for Andrew Conway and Darren Sweetnam".

"Looking further afield would be foolish for us when there's so much quality coming to the Aviva".

The rest of the side - several of whom played in the 2-1 series loss in South Africa past year - is packed with experience.

"I think it's a good South Africa team, it definitely is".



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