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No Room For Lomu On Blacks Starting XV

No Room For Lomu On Blacks Starting XV

Although coach John Mitchell has made ten changes from the side that beat Italy a week ago, Jonah Lomu must content himself with a place on the bench for the Test against Ireland.

Perhaps ominously for Ireland, 13 players from Super 12 champions Canterbury Crusaders have been included in the starting team for Saturday’s Test. Only three of the backline – out-half Andrew Mehrtens and wingers Doug Howlett and Caleb Ralph – have been retained from the team that scored nine tries against the Italians. Up front only lock Norm Maxwell and captain Reuben Thorne remain for the All Blacks second Test of the international season.

The side features 10 of the players who started when the All Blacks beat Ireland 40-29 at their last meeting in Dublin in November.

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Tana Umaga returns for his 38th test after overcoming a knee injury that dogged him during the Super 12.

Speaking of the decision to keep Lomu in reserve, assistant coach Bruce Deans said, ” We’re getting through a lot of work with Jonah and I’m sure he’ll get some game time. It will be what he does with that time that will determine whar happens from there.”

Lomu can be used on either wing, he played on the right in the second half against Italy.
“Yes, we have the option of using him on either flank.” said Deans.” He showed he can step off his left foot and that he can fend with his left hand. That’s the way it’s got to be. You’ve got to be able to play in every section of the ground. The number on your back is not relevant.”

New Zealand. Leon MacDonald; Doug Howlett, Tana Umaga, Aaron Mauger, Caleb Ralph; Andrew Mehrtens, Justin Marshall; Scott Robertson, Richard McCaw, Reuben Thorne capt; Norm Maxwell, Chris Jack; Greg Somerville, Mark Hammett, Dave Hewett.

Replacements. Tom Willis, Joe McDonnell, Taine Randell, Marty Holah, Byron Kelleher, Daryl Gibson, Jonah Lomu.