Jump to main content


New Leader For Ireland

New Leader For Ireland

Simon Easterby will captain Ireland in Saturday’s permanent tsb International against New Zealand at Lansdowne Road (kick-off 2.30pm).

Simon Easterby (right) leads his team mates at training on Tuesday

Simon Easterby will captain Ireland in Saturday’s permanent tsb International against New Zealand at Lansdowne Road (kick-off 2.30pm).

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Llanelli flanker Easterby, along with his fellow British & Irish Lion Shane Horgan (shoulder), gave Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan a timely boost on Tuesday as both were passed fit to face the All Blacks at the weekend.

Easterby sustained a broken nose whilst playing for the Scarlets against Toulouse in the opening round of the Heineken Cup on October 22, but, having trained with a nose guard last week, the 30-year-old has been given the all-clear to start and captain Ireland for the first time.

Easterby joins eight other 2005 Lions in Ireland’s starting line-up, and takes the captain’s armband with Brian O’Driscoll (shoulder) and Paul O’Connell (hand) both sidelined and Munster skipper Anthony Foley omitted from the matchday 22.

O’Sullivans’s XV includes five players – Tommy Bowe, Anthony Horgan, Peter Stringer, Marcus Horan and Denis Leamy – who started June’s second Test win against Japan in Tokyo. Only eight players remain from the side which took to the field against Wales in the final game of the 2005 Six Nations Championship in March.

Bowe and Horgan, with only nine Test caps between them, claim the wing berths, while Shane Horgan and Gordon D’Arcy form an all-Leinster midfield axis, and Munster pair Ronan O’Gara and Stringer link up once again at half-back.

In the forwards, Easterby heads a new-look back row unit. Wasps flanker Johnny O’Connor wins his eighth cap at openside, while Munster tyro Denis Leamy, who has played at 6, 7 and 13 for his province already this season, have been given to nod at number 8 ahead of Foley.

There’s a deal of familiarity about the front five. Shane Byrne, John Hayes and Malcolm O’Kelly were all regular starters in this year’s Six Nations.

Munster prop Marcus Horan, who started both Tests against Japan in the summer, comes in at loosehead for only his fourth start in an Irish side in two years. His provincial team mate Donncha O’Callaghan, whose last start came twelve months ago against the US Eagles, partners O’Kelly in the second row.

Six Ulster players, including uncapped duo Rory Best and Neil Best, fill the replacements bench with Leinster full-back Girvan Dempsey being the odd man out.

Saturday’s game will be the first Dublin meeting between Ireland and New Zealand since November 2001. Of the 17 previous clashes, the All Blacks have won 16 – a try from winger Tom Grace and two Barry McGann penalties saw the Irish earn a 10-10 draw against the Kiwis at Lansdowne Road in 1973.


15 – Geordan Murphy (Leicester), DOB: 19/04/78, Caps: 31
14 – Tommy Bowe (Ulster – Belfast Harlequins), 22/02/84, 3
13 – Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster – Lansdowne), 10/02/80, 12
12 – Shane Horgan (Leinster – Lansdowne), 18/07/78, 37
11 – Anthony Horgan (Munster – Cork Constitution), 15/11/76, 6
10 – Ronan O’Gara (Munster – Cork Constitution), 07/03/77, 52
9 – Peter Stringer (Munster – Shannon), 13/12/77, 58
1 – Marcus Horan (Munster – Shannon), 07/09/77, 30
2 – Shane Byrne (Saracens), 18/07/71, 38
3 – John Hayes (Munster – Bruff), 02/11/73, 54
4 – Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster – Cork Constitution), 23/03/79, 16
5 – Malcolm O’Kelly (Leinster – St. Mary’s College), 19/07/74, 73
6 – Simon Easterby (Llanelli), Captain, 21/07/75, 42
7 – Johnny O’Connor (Wasps), 09/02/80, 7
8 – Denis Leamy (Munster – Cork Constitution), 27/11/81, 3


16 – Rory Best (Ulster – Belfast Harlequins), 15/09/82, –
17 – Simon Best (Ulster – Belfast Harlequins), 11/02/78, 8
18 – Matt McCullough (Ulster – Ballymena), 09/09/81, 2
19 – Neil Best (Ulster – Belfast Harlequins), 03/04/79, –
20 – Kieran Campbell (Ulster – Dungannon), 06/07/79, 2
21 – David Humphreys (Ulster – Dungannon), 10/09/71, 69
22 – Girvan Dempsey (Leinster – Terenure College), 02/10/75, 60

Not considered due to injury: Guy Easterby (Leinster – Blackrock College), Denis Hickie (Leinster – St. Mary’s College), Eric Miller (Leinster – Terenure College), Paul O’Connell (Munster – Young Munster), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster – Blackrock College), Alan Quinlan (Munster – Shannon), Frankie Sheahan (Munster – Cork Constitution).

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)