Stuart McCloskey set for new centre partnership in Ireland team for Maori All Blacks
The squad players get a final chance to force themselves into the Test picture.
The Ireland team for the second tour match against the Maori All Blacks will be named in the early hours [GMT] of Monday morning, ahead of the Tuesday clash between the sides.
Spirits are high in the Irish camp after the Second Test victory over the All Blacks, in Dunedin. That being said, the players that have not seen any game time since their tour-opening defeat to the Maori side will be desperate to get out and show what they can do.
Ireland lost the opening encounter between the sides, 32-17, with several of the starters under-performing against a dialled-in home side. Bundee Aki, Tom O'Toole, Nick Timoney and Gavin Coombes acquitted themselves well, but the Maori All Blacks frequently cut the Ireland defence to shreds.
Head coach Andy Farrell looks to have made a clear decision, with the five tour games in mind, to have a Test side and a midweek side. The likes of Aki, O'Toole, Jack Conan, and a few others, have made starts or sub appearances against New Zealand, but there has been a delineation.
With that in mind, Ireland should be able to field a starting XV that will be well rested. All 15 players will be fresh, having not been involved in the weekend's action.
Four predicted changes from last Ireland team named to face Maoris
With James Hume [groin] and Harry Byrne [hamstring] out of the selection mix, there will be another outhalf start for Ciarán Frawley and a new-look midfield.
Bundee Aki is likely to be needed for the Third Test, so Stuart McCloskey should start at 12 and Jimmy O'Brien would move in from the wing to outside centre. Mike Lowry would then get a starting crack in the No.15 jersey.
There may not be too many changes in the pack, but Niall Scannell may get a start at hooker and Ryan Baird is likely for a second row berth. Ed Byrne will be pushing for a start, but Jeremy Loughman will hopefully be cleared for action.
PREDICTED IRELAND TEAM vs. MAORI ALL BLACKS
15. Mike Lowry
14. Jordan Larmour
13. Jimmy O’Brien
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Keith Earls (captain)
10. Ciaran Frawley
9. Craig Casey
1. Jeremy Loughman
2. Niall Scannell
3. Tom O’Toole
4. Ryan Baird
5. Joe McCarthy
6. Cian Prendergast
7. Nick Timoney
8. Gavin Coombes
REPLACEMENTS: Rob Herring, Ed Byrne, Finlay Bealham, Kieran Treadwell, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Bundee Aki.