Joe Schmidt set to confirm one giant surprise in team to face All Blacks
Joe Schmidt looks set to give Ultan Dillane his first Irish start, against the All Blacks.
The Connacht lock has had his game-time managed carefully since the start of this season and was rested from his side's Guinness PRO12 loss to Leinster last weekend. Dillane is battling it out with Billy Holland and Donnacha Ryan to partner Devin Toner and appears to have won out.
If that is Schmidt's gambit, he is playing it safe with his backline. Rob Kearney is set to resume his fullback duties in order for Jared Payne to go back into midfield with Robbie Henshaw. Schmidt does not yet seem convinced by Henshaw's promising Leinster partnership with Garry Ringrose.
Elsewhere, Tadhg Furlong has the opportunity to make the tighthead position his own while Jordi Murphy's summer form, against South Africa, is set to get him the No.7 jersey ahead of Josh van der Flier.
Simon Zebo is likely to get a rare start on the wing for a Schmidt-led Ireland while Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton make us all feel better about our chances by starting as half backs.
The Ireland team is set to be officially announced on Thursday afternoon at the team hotel in Chicago.
15. R Kearney
2. Best (c)
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