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15th Nov 2018

Tana Umaga selects the Irish players he thinks would get into New Zealand’s first XV

Michael Corry

It’s a pity two of them are missing on Saturday…

Joe Schmidt is in the midst of preparing Ireland to take on World Champions, New Zealand on Saturday night at the Aviva Stadium. Irish rugby is riding the crest of a wave at the moment and this eagerly anticipated test match will really give Schmidt an indication of how good his team are heading into a World Cup year.

Ahead of the big game, many legendary All Black’s legends have been popping up all over Dublin. One such legend was Tana Umaga who sat down for a special interview with Andrew Trimble this week for Baz and Andrew’s House of Rugby live show from the Guinness Open Gate Brewery.


Given the fact that Ireland are currently ranked second in the world behind the All Blacks, Trimble asked Umaga an intriguing question about what Irish players he thinks would be able to break into the New Zealand side.

“Who are the threats, in particular, on this Irish side? Who would get into a New Zealand 15?” Trimble said.

Tana Umaga’s first response was the obvious one in Conor Murray, Ireland’s star scrum half who unfortunately will be missing this weekend.

“Em, oh! I think, you know, what’s pertinent for the Irish game is obviously – whether Conor Murray plays or not is a big deal. We saw what he did when he came across [to New Zealand] with the Lions and what he did to the All Blacks. And that day too, just his pin-point accuracy, his competitiveness and his toughness. I love him as a defender as well, as a 9.”

“Yeah. We’re hoping he doesn’t make a miraculous recovery and come back too soon, because I think he’s important obviously.”


Umaga also named two other Irish stars who he feels would make an impact in the All Black’s side.

“And Johnny Sexton, the way he’s playing and the way he drives that team around. And it would be interesting to see Sean O’Brien, because we know [all about him]. It’s interesting, with Brian [O’Driscoll] we’ve been talking about it, but some players give others around them confidence when he’s on the field. And he’s definitely one of those.”

Interesting choices for sure, one would suspect however, that Tadhg Furlong could feel aggrieved at being left out of Umaga’s selection.

The disappointing thing is that, of the three players Tana Umaga mentioned, two (Murray and O’Brien) won’t be available to call upon this weekend.