Sweetnam set to face South Africa

Mae Love
November 10, 2017

The Ulster wing is joined in a new-look back-line by debutant Bundee Aki, with Andrew Conway replacing the injured Keith Earls in the opening autumn Test.

The 21-year-old, who burst on the Ulster scene last season after playing in the June 2016 Under-20s World Cup final, debuted for Schmidt in the summer tour matches at U.S. and Japan. I think when you're in that position and captaining the country you never like to assume anything, so it was good when Joe said: "we'd like you to do it again for this season" it gave me the confidence that he liked what I was doing, I was doing a good job.

Bundee Aki has been named in the starting side to make his debut tomorrow while Jacob Stockdale's current form has also seen him named in Schmidt's side.

"It's a hamstring injury, and I think it's going ot make it certainly a struggle for next week, and potentially the week after".

"We're disappointed and so is he because he was sensational for us in Japan in the summer. But what a fantastic chance for Andrew Conway and Darren Sweetnam".

Connacht's New Zealand-born midfielder has been thrust into immediate Test action after completing his three-year residency qualification.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt admitted he has sympathy for the player at the centre of the storm.

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"I think South Africa are a good team and have come a long way from the one we played in June past year", said Best at his eve-of-Test press conference on Friday.

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

The inclusion of 31-year-old Kearney, who has played just 187 minutes of rugby this term, was the other main talking point to come from Schmidt's selection.

The uncapped Darren Sweetnam takes his place on the bench having been preferred to Leinster's Adam Byrne.

Schmidt explained: "We were looking for form players".

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

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