5 Talking Points As Ireland Team Named For All Blacks Test
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Joe Schmidt earlier named his Ireland team for this weekend’s clash with the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, with the head coach making four changes to the starting XV that defeated Argentina last week.
In comes Dan Leavy for the injured Sean O’Brien at openside, while Devin Toner and Iain Henderson swap places with the latter dropping to the replacements bench.
Meanwhile in the backs Garry Ringrose starts at 13 alongside Bundee Aki after recovering from an injury sustained while playing against Italy, and Rob Kearney makes his return at fullback.
Here are five talking points.
As expected Devin Toner has been promoted to the starting line-up after a disappointing showing at lineout time from Ireland last week. That coupled with how impressive New Zealand’s lineout was against England meant the 6ft 10in lock had to start.
Toner’s presence should give Ireland the best chance of winning their own ball, and also gives Peter O’Mahony a better chance at stealing on defensive lineouts. A great move by Schmidt.
Kearney is back.
Jordan Larmour was excellent against Italy, but lacked in experience against Argentina and was caught out a few times. The youngster’s time will come, but for now Kearney’s experience is needed against the All Blacks. He played one of his best games for Ireland in recent memory in the win over Steve Hansen’s side in Chicago back in 2016. If he can produced a performance like that on Saturday, Ireland have every chance of winning.
Losing Robbie Henshaw was always going to be a blow, but Will Addison stepped up well last week. But Ringrose offers a level of creativity that no other Irish centre has. He’s the ideal player to have in your arsenal when taking on the mighty All Blacks.
No Tadhg Beirne.
Bit of a surprise here if you ask me. No offence to Iain Henderson, who is superb player, but I felt Beirne would have offered a better impact off the bench, especially with his breakdown nous. His inexperience has clearly counted against him.
Larmour gets the nod.
Any one of Addison, Conway and Larmour could have got the number 23 jersey, but Schmidt has chosen the youngster. The other two probably would have been the safer option, but Schmidt knows – safe doesn’t beat the All Blacks. Hopefully if he comes on he can find some space. We all know what happens then.