Rugby World Cup: Ireland v Russia
Venue: Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe City Date: Thursday, 3 October Kick-off: 11:15 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Ulster and online

Johnny Sexton will captain Ireland as Joe Schmidt makes 11 changes for his side’s game against Russia on Thursday.

Rob Kearney, Garry Ringrose, Keith Earls and Peter O’Mahony are the only players to be retained from the shock defeat by Japan in Shizuoka.

Jordi Murphy comes into the back row having joined the squad on Monday as a replacement for the injured Jack Conan.

Munster duo Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne start as an international second row pairing for the first time.

Scotland’s win over Samoa on Monday means that, despite the Japan loss, Ireland’s fate is still in their own hands and they are assured of a quarter-final berth if they secure bonus-point wins in their last two Pool A games.

Russia are the only side in the group without a win through the first two rounds of fixtures.

Fit-again Sexton required to steady ship

As Ireland wilted under intense pressure from the host nation last Saturday, the importance of the absent Sexton was only further underlined.

While Russia are not expected to pose nearly the level of threat that Japan did, Schmidt will rely on the returning 33-year-old fly-half to be a calming influence after a tumultuous week.

Sexton will be the 106th player to captain Ireland as he prepares to lead the side for the first time.

Centre Ringrose, one of Ireland’s best performers in the opening two fixtures, is called upon to start for the third time in 11 days, having played a full 80 minutes against both Scotland and Japan.

There is still no sign of Robbie Henshaw, who was not featured at all having suffered a hamstring injury in the build-up to Ireland’s opening game.

With Chris Farrell ruled out with concussion, Bundee Aki is the only other fit centre in the squad.

Ulster’s Murphy was named to start in the province’s opening Pro14 fixtures last Friday but was withdrawn after news of Conan’s injury emerged.

The back row, who has 29 international caps, slots straight into a new-look back row after Schmidt praised his “outstanding” performance in training on Tuesday.

Ireland: Kearney, Conway, Ringrose, Aki, Earls; Sexton, McGrath; Kilcoyne, Scannell, Ryan, Kleyn, Beirne; Ruddock, O’Mahony, Murphy.

Replacements: Cronin, Porter, Furlong, Henderson, Stander, Carty, Carbery, Larmour.

Russia: Artemyev; Davydov, Galinovskiy, Golosnitskiy, Simplikevich; Gaisin, Perov; Polivalov, Matveev, Gotovtsev, Garbuzov, Fedotko; Sychev, Gadzhiev, Gresev.

Replacements: Selskii, Morozov, Podrezov, Ostrikov, Elgin, Ianiushkin, Khodin, Ostroushkosday.