Ireland: Chris Henry out of South Africa game because of illness

Chris Henry and Rory Best
Chris Henry joins his Ulster team-mate Rory Best in being ruled out of Ireland's game against South Africa
Autumn international: Ireland v South Africa
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 8 November 2014 Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, Radio Ulster and BBC Sport website

Chris Henry is out of the Ireland team for Saturday's Test against South Africa in Dublin because of illness.

The Ulster flanker was taken ill overnight and has been replaced by Leinster's Rhys Ruddock.

It's another fitness blow for Ireland coach with regulars Rory Best, Cian Healy and Andrew Trimble among a large group of missing squad members.

Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw will form a new centre partnership for Ireland in Saturday's Test.

With Ruddock promoted from the replacements to win his fourth cap, Munster's Tommy O'Donnell has been drafted on to the Irish bench.

Ulster player Payne, 29, will make his debut and take over the number 13 shirt from the retired Brian O'Driscoll.

Three-times capped Henshaw, 21, got the nod over Gordon D'Arcy with Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo named on the wings.

Ireland's autumn internationals
OppositionDate
All fixtures at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
South AfricaSaturday, 8 November
GeorgiaSunday, 16 November
AustraliaSaturday, 22 November

Leinster's Sean Cronin was selected at hooker after Best pulled out with a calf injury on Wednesday.

Tight-head prop Mike Ross, who makes the team after recovering from a groin injury, had been unable to play for Leinster for a month.

The fitness of Ross is of particular importance to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt with other tight-head options Marty Moore and Nathan White ruled out of the three autumn Tests because of injury.

The team shows seven changes from the side which started in the Six Nations-clinching win over France in March.

In addition to the new centre partnership, Bowe and Zebo replace injured wings Andrew Trimble and Dave Kearney while Cronin and Jack McGrath replace Best and also injured Cian Healy in the front row.

Connacht tight-head prop Rodney Ah You, who won his first cap against Argentina in the summer, will provide cover for Ross on the bench.

Schmidt said that D'Arcy's lack of preparation time after missing training last week because of a groin twinge had convinced him to opt for newly Irish-qualified Payne and Connacht talent Henshaw at centre.

New Zealand native Payne has impressed at full-back for Ulster in recent seasons but as his Irish availability drew near, he began to be earmarked as a possible successor to O'Driscoll.

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Payne & Henshaw 'deserve chance'

"We have very small windows of preparation for a very brief time," added the Ireland coach.

"They [Payne and Henshaw] trained together last week and we've decided to keep a bit of continuity.

"Gordon was injured last week. He's probably back to full fitness now but we weren't absolutely sure of that at the beginning of this week.

"It was going to be a new centre pairing no matter what happened and we decided to go with what we'd had the most time to prepare with."

Of last season's Six Nations title winning squad, Healy, Trimble, Dave Kearney, Jordi Murphy, Iain Henderson, Marty Moore, Fergus McFadden, Henry and Best are ruled out of the Springboks game.

Healy, Trimble and Moore will miss all the November internationals with Ireland also facing Georgia and Australia later in the month at the Aviva Stadium.

Murphy, Kearney and McFadden are nearing a return to action but will not feature against South Africa.

Luke Marshall and Donnacha Ryan will also be out of action until the New Year because of injury.

Ireland: Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross; Devin Toner, Paul O'Connell; Peter O'Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Dave Kilcoyne, Rodney Ah You, Mike McCarthy, Tommy O'Donnell, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Felix Jones.

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