Ireland team Andy Farrell should start in First Test against the All Blacks 1 month ago

Ireland team Andy Farrell should start in First Test against the All Blacks

"This is the start of our Rugby World Cup campaign."

Andy Farrell knows full well that Ireland's tour to New Zealand will play a big role in steeling, and developing, his players for next year's World Cup in France. Despite a couple of tough injuries, he can still field a mighty strong team to face the All Blacks, three Saturdays in a row.

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The Ireland head coach, today, named a 40-man squad for the five-match tour to New Zealand. Johnny Sexton will captain his country in the Test matches, while there are plenty of experienced heads to step into that role for the two midweek matches against the Maori All Blacks.

"It is going to be a fantastic challenge for our group facing five massive tests across the three weeks," said Farrell, before later adding:

"This group could also be the last to play a Test series in New Zealand, which makes it even more special."

It has been 10 years since Ireland last toured New Zealand. They were well beaten in the First and Third Tests, but ran the then world champions very close at Christchurch, only losing out to a late, late Dan Carter drop goal.

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Ireland team Jonathan Sexton and Ireland head coach Andy Farrell. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile)

Two strong potential starting XVs that can be selected

From the 40-man squad named by Farrell, it is possible to make out a very strong Ireland team to take on New Zealand, and leave a very exciting XV to face the Maori All Blacks.

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Ireland are bringing Connacht's senior coach Peter Wilkins to New Zealand for what will effectively be a brief to work closely with the midweek sides while Farrell focuses on the Ireland team to do battle with Ian Foster's men, on weekend outings.

OUR IRELAND TEAM TO FACE NEW ZEALAND

15. Hugo Keenan
14. Mack Hansen
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. James Lowe
10. Johnny Sexton (captain)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Andrew Porter
2. Dan Sheehan
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. Iain Henderson
6. Caelan Doris
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan

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POSSIBLE IRELAND XV TO FACE MAORI ALL BLACKS

15. Mike Lowry
14. Keith Earls
13. James Hume
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jordan Larmour
10. Joey Carbery
9. Craig Casey

1. Cian Healy
2. Rob Herring
3. Tom O'Toole
4. James Ryan
5. Joe McCarthy
6. Ryan Baird
7. Peter O'Mahony (captain)
8. Gavin Coombes

That still leaves the likes of Conor Murray, Dave Heffernan, Kieran Treadwell, Jimmy O'Brien, Jeremy Loughman, Finlay Bealham, Cian Prendergast, Nick Timoney, Ciarán Frawley and Harry Byrne in reserve.

One of the players heading on tour for the first time with Ireland, this summer, is Connacht winger Mack Hansen. He was the special guest on the latest House of Rugby URC episode [LISTEN from 1:30 below] and he spoke of what challenges the All Blacks will present.

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We're looking forward to this one already!

Ireland 2022 Summer Tour Fixtures (all games on Sky Sports)

Māori All Blacks v IRELAND
FMG Stadium, Hamilton, Wednesday 29th June, 2022 (KO: 8.05am)

New Zealand v IRELAND
Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday 2nd July, 2022 (KO: 8.05am)

New Zealand v IRELAND
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, Saturday 9th July, 2022 (KO: 8.05am)

Māori All Blacks v IRELAND
SKY Stadium, Wellington, Tuesday 12th July, 2022 (KO: 8.05am)

New Zealand v IRELAND
SKY Stadium, Wellington, Saturday 16th July, 2022 (KO: 8.05am)