10 Irish players make Ireland-New Zealand combined XV from Kiwi media
Over in New Zealand, they aren’t taking the Irish challenge lightly.
Ireland have been widely described as favourites ahead of their Rugby World Cup quarter final against the aristocrats of world rugby
That’s legislating for quite a change since the last World Cup, when the Kiwis defeated Ireland by 46-16, but the Ireland team, in particular, has changed drastically since Tokyo 2019.
Only six Irish players who started in that last eight clash will start again this Saturday night at the Stade de France, with Andy Farrell bringing a new look Ireland team to the fray.
From a New Zealand perspective, meanwhile, ten of their starters from four years ago retain their place.
Buoyed by a victory over New Zealand in last summer’s test series, the general consensus seems to be that Ireland have surpassed their opponents in the pecking order.
This is a viewpoint that would appear to be shared by the New Zealand based podcast Rugby Direct.
The New Zealand herald’s chief sportswriter and rugby correspondent Liam Napier is one half of the podcast with Elliott Smith and when asked to pick his combined Ireland-New Zealand team, Napier goes for a 10-5 split in favour of Ireland.
“This is predominantly based on form,” Napier states from the outset.
Liam Napier’s combined Ireland-New Zealand team
15 Hugo Keenan
Keenan’s familiarity with the full back position is seen as an advantage over the All Blacks legend.
“Beauden Barrett’s flittered between ten and full back probably hasn’t got the balance of his game quite right in terms of kicking, running and challenging the line,” says Napier.
14 Will Jordan
The 25-year-old winger Jordan hasn’t quite caught fire at this World Cup, but he’s still given the nod over Hansen.
13 Garry Ringrose
“I’ve got some defensive concerns over Rieko.”
12 Bundee Aki
The New Zealand duo give Aki his dues by stating he’s well in contention for World Rugby player of the year, and this earns him his place over Jordie Barrett.
11 James Lowe
Mark Telea has impressed for the All Blacks but Lowe’s experience earns him the shout.
10 Johnny Sexton
“I don’t have a lot of love for Johnny, I’m going to be honest,” says the journalist, before giving picking Sexton over Richie Mo’unga.
“I think he can be very self-entitled and is very confronting [in] his approach to match officials.
“He comes across as a guy that can’t be touched, at times, without some kind of reaction, but he is an absolute lynchpin for Ireland.”
9 Aaron Smith
A true legend of All Blacks rugby and he gets the nod over Gibson Park.
8 Ardie Savea (over Caelan Doris)
“Ardie probably has a wee bit more to his game. But Doris is a phenomenal player for Ireland.”
7 Josh van der Flier
The Wicklow man is picked over All Blacks captain Sam Cane.
6 Shannon Frizell
“I think O’Mahony can run a bit hot and cold actually, and that’s why I’m going Shannon Frizell. At his peak, I think he’s one of the most physically dominant loose forwards going around.
5 Scott Barrett
“Iain Henderson is up for grabs, but I’m going for Scott Barrett – based on his compelling form this year, I think he’s become one of the best locks in the world. Amazing work-rate.”
4 Tadhg Beirne
Gets the nod over All Black legend Sam Whitelock.
3 Tadhg Furlong
Is selected over his opposite number Nepo Laulala.
2 Dan Sheehan
Is selected over Codie Taylor, who has been capped 79 times for New Zealand.
1 Andrew Porter
Is selected over the more inexperienced Ethan de Groot.