Ireland rest Sexton, Best for Italy Test

Johnny Sexton (Getty Images)
Johnny Sexton (Getty Images)

Dublin - Six Nations Grand Slam champions Ireland will have an all new halfback partnership for the Test with Italy in Chicago on Saturday after head coach Joe Schmidt preferred to keep Johnny Sexton fresh for tougher matches later in November.

Sexton has formed a world class pairing with scrumhalf Conor Murray - who will miss the Tests as he is yet to play this season - but with Argentina and world champions New Zealand due to play in Dublin in November Schmidt is not prepared to risk his star flyhalf.

Other key members of the Six Nations triumph will not travel to the United States, including seasoned hooker and captain Rory Best - who missed the 2-1 Test series victory over Australia in the summer - flank Peter O'Mahony, No 8 CJ Stander, fullback Rob Kearney and utility back Keith Earls.

The absences of Sexton and Murray offers opportunities at flyhalf to Joey Carbery, who has impressed this season since his move to Munster from Leinster, and the uncapped Ross Byrne, who is Sexton's understudy at Leinster.

The scrumhalf berth will be filled by either Ulster's John Cooney, who has two caps, or Sexton's halfback partner at Leinster, the six-times capped Luke McGrath.

Soldier Field holds happy memories for the Irish, who recorded their first ever victory over the All Blacks there in 2016.

Ireland squad:

Forwards

Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Dave Kilcoyne, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Andrew Porter, Quinn Roux, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, Niall Scannell, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier,

Backs

Will Addison, Bundee Aki, Ross Byrne, Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Jordan Larmour, Luke McGrath, Garry Ringrose, Jacob Stockdale, Darren Sweetnam

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England 204 & 15/0 (10 ov)
West Indies 318
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