Ireland XV that should start massive encounter with the All Blacks 4 weeks ago

Ireland XV that should start massive encounter with the All Blacks

"It's hard to look past any of those lads."

Andy Farrell's Ireland team are on a six-game winning streak and looked mightily impressive in their last four games when at full strength. There are reasons to be hopeful as New Zealand touch down in Dublin.

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The last four encounters between the two sides have led to an even 2-2 split. Ireland beat the All Blacks in 2016 and 2018 but lost the most recent meeting, at the World Cup in 2019.

To look ahead to Saturday's game at the Aviva Stadium, and to debate the strongest Ireland team to face New Zealand, House of Rugby URC drafted in a guy that has beaten the Kiwis twice - Devin Toner. The Leinster lock [LISTEN from 33:15 below] was adamant about some big team selection calls.

Jonathan Sexton of Ireland acknowledges supporters at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile)

Devin Toner thinks there could be one change to Ireland team

"You look at the bench we had for that Japan game," Devin Toner says.

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"You have lads like Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony, Cian Healy and Keith Earls there.

"They could all do a job, but the one change you might see is that Conor Murray might come in at No.9, which is hard on Jamison [Gibson-Park] as he played so well."

Toner started the big Ireland wins over the All Blacks, in 2016 and 2018, and was sorely missed in 2019 when the Kiwis put on an exhibition in the World Cup quarter final. Nailing the set-piece, cutting errors to a bare minimum and playing to your strengths are all needed, he believes, to down New Zealand.

That is what makes him think Murray could get in at scrumhalf ahead of Gibson-Park. "Sometimes it helps a team, but it comes to the detriment of certain players when they're great off the bench," says Toner.

"He's done phenomenal work for us for Leinster. When it's between him and Luke McGrath, whichever comes off the bench really does bring that extra bit of something. He could do that again, at the 55- or 60-minute mark."

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Jamison Gibson-Park of Ireland pictured during a match against Japan at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile)

When it comes to the rest of the XV that started against Japan, and helped Ireland to a comprehensive 60-5 win, the Leinster lock feels Andy Farrell won't make too many changes.

He believes it would be "unfair" to drop either Andrew Conway or James Lowe after the wingers combined for over 180-metres gained and four tries against the Japanese.

To our mind, though, the big calls will be at loosehead [Cian Healy or Andrew Porter], hooker [Ronán Kelleher or Rob Herring] and on the wings.

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We're going against Toner on the Gibson-Park call, and keeping Murray in reserve. In the front row, we are going for the younger models, with one eye on the next World Cup. And we're bringing in Jordan Larmour in place of Lowe, even though the latter did do very well against Japan.

Our Ireland team to face New Zealand

15. Hugo Keenan
14. Andrew Conway
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jordan Larmour
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Andrew Porter
2. Ronán Kelleher
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. James Ryan
6. Caelan Doris
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan

Subs: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Keith Earls.

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Andy Farrell will name his Ireland team to face New Zealand on Thursday afternoon.