This Is The Ireland Team That Must Start Against The All Blacks

To be the man…

Ireland will face the ultimate litmus test this weekend when they take on world champions New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Joe Schmidt’s men are currently on an unprecedented winning streak at home, having won their last 10 fixtures there. But they haven’t faced the All Blacks in that time, are are yet to defeat them in Dublin.

In fact Ireland have only defeated the All Blacks once in their entire history – in Chicago back in 2016, so there’s no hiding the face that this weekend will be the current squad’s biggest challenge yet.

Heading into the game Ireland have a near full-strength team to choose from. The only real worry at the moment is Robbie Henshaw. Conor Murray will be a huge loss if he doesn’t make it, but Ireland have been preparing for his absence for quite some time.

Most of the team picks itself to be fair, with just a few positions up for grabs. The two big talking points are the second-row and who starts at scrumhalf if Murray is out.

In terms of the locks, after seeing Ireland’s lineout malfunction  against Argentina, and the All Blacks upset England there on a number of occasions – big Devin Toner will likely be brought in to start. In terms of the bench, we’d go with Tadhg Beirne who has also cover 6 & 8. He could make a real impact off the bench with his incredible poaching ability if Ireland feel they need to get their hands back on the ball.

At nine, Marmion is your safe option, while McGrath is the kind of player that will have a go at the All Blacks. The latter is the only way to take them on, so the Leinster man gets the nod.

Here’s our team in full.

15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Luke McGrath (Murray if fit)

1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (c)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Dan Leavy
8. CJ Stander

Replacements:
16. Niall Scannell
17. Jack McGrath
18. Andrew Porter
19. Tadhg Beirne
20. Josh van der Flier
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Joey Carbery
23. Jordan Larmour