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O’Gara and Stringer at Half Back

O’Gara and Stringer at Half Back

Ronan O’Gara will make his first international start of the season when he partners Peter Stringer in the first Test against the All Blacks in Carisbrook Stadium

The team was announced this morning after training in Mosgiel and the other notable selections see John Kelly partner Brian O’Driscoll in the centre with the English based pair of Justin Bishop on one wing and Geordan Murphy on the other.

Explaining the decision to opt for O’Gara ahead of David Humphreys, coach Eddie O’Sullivan said David has probably suffered from not having too many first class games in the past few weeks. It’s always a difficult call between the two. Since Ronan came on board two years ago it’s been nip n tuck between the pair with Ronan getting the nod on this occasion.

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In relation to the back division and the new midfield combination of Kelly and O’Driscoll, O’Sullivan explained, It’s a question of getting what you think are your best players on the field. John Kelly is comfortable in the centre, Justin (Bishop) had a good game on Saturday last and Geordan is back in form.

Although Gary Longwell is selected to partner Paul O’Connell in the second row, the big Ballymena player took no part in this morning’s session, an irritation to an Achilles tendon and the soft underfoot conditions meant he adopted a spectator role. Malcolm O’Kelly is back in full training following shin splints trouble. An injury sustained in the match on Saturday has ruled both Alan Quinlan and Eric Miller out of contention for a Test place this time around. Miller, like Longwell, was a spectator today but Quinlan did some light jogging with physio Ailbe McCormack and the Tipperary man is hopeful of being available for consideration forthe bench on Saturday or for the second Test in Auckland a week from Saturday.

The replacements will be announced later in the week.

Ireland G Dempsey; G Murphy, B O’Driscoll, J Kelly, J Bishop; R O’Gara, P Stringer; R Corrigan, K Wood capt, J Hayes; G Longwell, P O’Connell; S Easterby, K Gleeson, A Foley.