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Johnny Sexton to captain Ireland for first time against Russia as Joe Schmidt makes 11 changes to team after shock Japan loss Johnny Sexton missed out against Japan and Ireland suffered surprise defeat  Veteran fly-half is back in action against Russia with Ireland needing to win  Playmaker has recovered from a bang to his thigh sustained in Scotland game  Joe Schmidt has made 11 changes to the side that lost against the host nation 

By Press Association Reporter

Published: 07:48 BST, 1 October 2019 | Updated: 08:33 BST, 1 October 2019

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Johnny Sexton will captain Ireland for the first time in Thursday's clash with Russia as Joe Schmidt's men bid to set their World Cup back on track.

Fly-half Sexton had declared himself fit and ready to fire back into action on Sunday, the day after missing Ireland's 19-12 loss to hosts Japan.

The British and Irish Lions playmaker missed the Shizuoka defeat by the Brave Blossoms due to the thigh bang he had sustained in the 27-3 bonus-point win over Scotland.

Johnny Sexton will captain Ireland for the first time when his side play Russia on Thursday

Johnny Sexton will captain Ireland for the first time when his side play Russia on Thursday

But now the 34-year-old is not just ready to return, he has been pitched in from the off and as skipper to take on Russia - indicating the importance boss Schmidt has placed on Ireland firing an immediate riposte after that shock Japan loss.

Head coach Schmidt has made 11 personnel changes from the Japan defeat to take on Russia in Kobe, to account for the five-day turnaround.

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