12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
The season may have been a long one, but what better way to finish it than with a first ever win over New Zealand and that is the big focus for the Irish squad in the coming weeks.
Auckland was a happy hunting ground for Declan Kidney's men last September when they claimed the scalp of Australia in a memorable Rugby World Cup pool clash.
The personnel may have changed, owing to injury in some cases, but the drive to record a similar result against the All Blacks is just as intense.
New caps Simon Zebo and Declan Fitzpatrick will debut on the left wing and at tighthead and although there are a number of new combinations being tested out, the Ireland team can rely on an experienced spine with Brian O'Driscoll returning to captain the side.
ERC European Player of the Year Rob Kearney binds together an exciting back-three and his provincial colleague Jonathan Sexton, the top scorer in this season's Heineken Cup, will provide the direction from out-half.
It will be cap number 60 for Rory Best at hooker and his Ulster team-mate Dan Tuohy takes over from the injured Paul O'Connell to make his first start in the second row.
For young flanker Peter O'Mahony it will be his first taste of action against one of the southern Hemisphere's 'big three', while prop Ronan Loughney could be sprung from the bench to become Connacht's latest international.
Winless against New Zealand in 24 previous encounters, Ireland have averaged only 11 points per game against the Kiwis. A 10-all draw at Lansdowne Road from 1973 stands out as their best result to date.
Ireland came closest to a maiden Test victory over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil in Dunedin in 1992, when a Frank Bunce try gave the home side a narrow 24-21 win. The men in green went close again in another first Test in 2002, once again in Dunedin, when they were beaten 15-6.
We will have live text commentary direct from Eden Park as the O'Driscoll-captained team look to record Ireland's first ever victory in 25 meetings with the All Blacks.
Plug in your laptop or turn on the PC and enjoy a flavour of today's match live on IrishRugby.ie. There will be full live text and score updates throughout the coverage, with the game kicking off at 7.35pm New Zealand time/8.35am Irish time.
You can watch live TV coverage of the match on Sky Sports 2. Michael Corcoran will also be providing live commentary of the game on RTÉ Radio 1, with their coverage beginning shortly before kick-off.
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Look out for the MatchDay Live button in the Ireland section or simply click on the link below:
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