Picking The Ireland Team To Take On The All Blacks This Weekend

Ultimate Test.

Following last weekend’s impressive win over Japan last weekend, Ireland now have to deal with the small matter of the All Blacks who are in town ahead of Saturday’s mammoth clash at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The last time New Zealand were in the capital back in 2018, Ireland secured a famous win in front of a packed stadium. But they were sent crashing back down to earth at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, with a 46-14 defeat to send them crashing out at the quarter-final stages once again.

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So where does that leave us ahead of Saturday? Well, New Zealand will understandably come into the game as favourites but there’s a real sense that the men in green could cause an upset. They’re certainly capable, especially of the back of that Japan performance.

Sure, the Brave Blossoms were poor, but Ireland were damn good. Some of those tries scored last Saturday would have the rugby world waxing lyrical if you swapped their green jerseys for black ones.

And with that, you really can’t see Andy Farrell making too many changes. Myself, Devin Toner, Megan Williams and Greg O’Shea had a chat about selection on this week’s episode of House of Rugby URC and we reckon the only change could be Conor Murray in at nine in place of Jamison Gibson-Park.

“You look at the bench we had for that Japan game,” Toner said.

“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.”

I’ve thought hard since filming that episode and I’m torn, to be honest. Do Ireland roll the dice with Lowe given his defensive frailties? Or do you look to bring someone like Keith Earls back in? There’s also Jordan Larmour and Simon Zebo waiting in the wings.

I’m going with Earlsy, final answer. The All Blacks are a different animal.

Our Ireland team to face New Zealand

15. Hugo Keenan
14. Andrew Conway
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Bundee Aki
11. Keith Earls
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

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

Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony, Jamison Gibson-Park, Joey Carbery, Robbie Henshaw (if fit, Larmour if not)