Fitzgerald in the centres for Ireland

Date published: September 17 2015

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Luke Fitzgerald starts at inside centre for Ireland after Robbie Henshaw was ruled out of their World Cup opener against Canada.

The Leinster utility back gets the nod over the likes of Darren Cave and Ian Madigan, and will start alongside Jared Payne in midfield in the absence of Henshaw, who picked up a knock in training during the week.

Joe Schmidt has gone with virtually a full-strength side, with Paul O'Connell leading the team, next to Iain Henderson in the second row.

Loosehead Cian Healy, who was passed fit this week, will make his comeback off the bench, while Rob Kearney returns at full-back, forcing Simon Zebo onto the bench.

Tommy Bowe, whose missed tackle allowed Jonny May to score in the loss to England, is dropped from the matchday squad altogether, with Keith Earls getting a spot on the left wing, and Dave Kearney shifting across.

Ireland kick things off against Canada before a week off to prepare for their second game against Romania.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Luke Fitzgerald, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell (c), 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Nathan White, 19 Donnacha Ryan, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Simon Zebo.

Date: Saturday, September 19
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14:30 local 
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gauzère (France), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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