Andy Farrell goes for Munster veterans as Ireland team to face New Zealand named
Keith Earls gets his second start in what will be four days.
Andy Farrell has selected the Munster veterans Peter O'Mahony and Keith Earls in his Ireland team for the First Test against New Zealand, on Saturday.
With winger Mack Hansen still isolating after his positive Covid test, last weekend, Earls gets the 14 jersey. The 34-year-old started on the left wing in Wednesday's 32-17 loss to the Maori All Blacks.
O'Mahony gets the blindside start, with Jack Conan missing out and having to bide his time on a replacements' bench filled with familiar faces. Miraculously, Conan will be joined on the bench by Cian Healy, who Farrell had described as 'not looking very good' when asked about the injury he picked up, on Wednesday.
Andy Farrell goes with what he knows
With Hansen unavailable for selection, Farrell could have gone for the likes of Jordan Larmour or Jimmy O'Brien for the right wing, or moved Hugo Keenan to the position. He has played it safe with Earls, who will earn his 97th cap when he runs out at Eden Park.
The rest of the Ireland team is what most would have predicted - especially after the side to face the Maoris was named - with the other big call being O'Mahony getting in ahead of Conan.
This will be the first time O'Mahony will play at Eden Park since he captained the British & Irish Lions here in the First Test of the 2017 series.
IRELAND TEAM TO FACE NEW ZEALAND
15. Hugo Keenan
14. Keith Earls
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. James Ryan
6. Peter O'Mahony
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Caelan Doris
REPLACEMENTS: Dave Heffernan, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Kieran Treadwell, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Bundee Aki.
The All Blacks named their Test team on Thursday, too, with winger Leicester Fainga’anuku in at No.11 for his debut in a team that includes both Jordie and Beauden Barrett in its' backline. Sam Cane captains the ABs, and is joined in the back row by Scott Barrett and Ardie Savea.
On the latest House of Rugby [LISTEN from 51:20 below], Darren Cave, Lindsay Peat, Greg O'Shea and Jason Hennessy all looked ahead to this highly anticipated Test Series between Ireland and the All Blacks.
Irish bench stacked with familiar faces
Andy Farrell has named Cian Healy on his bench, despite the Leinster loosehead leaving the FG Stadium pitch on a medical cart, on Wednesday. Ed Byrne (Leinster) is heading to New Zealand as propping cover, though.
Elsewhere on the bench, Kieran Treadwell pipped Ryan Baird as second row cover while Bundee Aki is backline cover, after captaining the Ireland ream against Maori All Blacks.
The bench has more than 270 Test caps' worth of experience, with Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham all included there, along with Dave Heffernan.
NEW ZEALAND vs. IRELAND - Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday 2nd July, 2022, KO: 8.05am Irish Time. Coverage available on RTE Radio, Sky Sports and with a NOW Sports Membership.