Ireland boss Declan Kidney has included six new uncapped players in his starting XV for Saturday’s Test against Canada.
Four of the new caps have been named in the back-line. Connacht’s Ian Keatley will wear number ten, Ulster duo Darren Cave and Ian Whitten have been paired together in midfield, while Munster’s Ian Dowling will start on the right wing.
Up front, meanwhile, there are Test debuts for flankers John Muldoon (Connacht) and Niall Ronan (Leinster), on the blindside and openside respectively.
Elsewhere, there is a first ever start for Ulster loose-head Tom Court, who has been selected in the front row alongside his provincial colleague and skipper for the day, Rory Best, and Munster tight-head Tony Buckley.
Mick O’Driscoll will be partnered by Bob Casey in the second row, with the latter in line for his first appearance for Ireland since 2000, which, coincidentally, was also against Canada.
On his team selection, Kidney commented: “Our aim at the start of this season was to build a squad but with so many experienced players available, it has been difficult for some players to get experiences of their own.
”This is an ideal tour for them as these are full test matches and we will see how the players cope when they are exposed to the full rigours of test match rugby.
”These players have been training and playing with their provinces over a number of years and so we are just looking forward to seeing how they go this weekend.
“There is a lot of youth in this backline for Saturday, but with players like Brian (O’Driscoll), Gordon (D’Arcy) and Ronan (O’Gara) being around for so long and winning so many caps, these players have not been able to get the opportunity to get international experience.
”Saturday gives these players that chance to put down a marker to challenge for places and we see this as the start of our preparations for Rugby World Cup 2011 and building a squad for that tournament.”
Best, meanwhile, was quick to express his joy at being named skipper for the opening game of the tour.
“I am obviously delighted and incredibly proud to be leading the side on Saturday, especially with some of the up and coming players in Irish rugby,” he enthused.
”Saturday is a big challenge as Canada will certainly be a physically imposing side and will want to try and test us in all areas of the park, especially up front.
”We have to be able to meet that challenge and put in a performance. We have had a short time together, but I think there is a good blend in the team with players like Peter (Stringer) and Denis (Leamy), along with Mick O’Driscoll and Bob Casey adding experience to some of the younger players which will be important.”
Ireland Team v Canada: Gavin Duffy; Barry Murphy, Darren Cave, Ian Whitten, Ian Dowling; Ian Keatley, Peter Stringer; Tom Court, Rory Best (capt), Tony Buckley; Bob Casey, Mick O'Driscoll; John Muldoon, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Ryan Caldwell, Donnacha Ryan, Eoin Reddan, Niall O'Connor, Denis Hurley.