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O’Brien Is Ireland’s Only Change From Chicago Win

O’Brien Is Ireland’s Only Change From Chicago Win

The Ireland coaches have named the team to play New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm) in the second fixture of the 2016 GUINNESS Series.

There is just one change to the Ireland side that beat the All Blacks 40-29 in Chicago, with Sean O’Brien coming in at openside flanker for the injured Jordi Murphy (knee).
Rory Best will win his 99th cap – becoming Ireland’s fifth most-capped player of all-time – when he leads out the team on Saturday. He is partnered in the front row by Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong, with Devin Toner and Donnacha Ryan combining again in the second row.

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Vice-captain Jamie Heaslip will make his 90th Ireland appearance, leading a powerful back row that includes O’Brien, who played 67 minutes against Canada last Saturday, and CJ Stander. The trio’s only previous start together was against France last February when a hamstring injury forced O’Brien off midway through the first half.

Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton fill the half-back positions, with the key duo responsible for 54 of the last 91 points Ireland have scored against the All Backs – Murray with three tries in four games and Sexton booting 36 points (six conversions and 8 penalties).

Robbie Henshaw, the scorer of the clinching try at Soldier Field, and Jared Payne continue their centre partnership, and full-back Rob Kearney and wingers Andrew Trimble and Simon Zebo resume in the back-three – Ireland’s most experienced combination on the pitch with 163 caps between them.
Paddy Jackson is named in the replacements having started against Canada, while his Ulster colleague Iain Henderson, who has shaken off a shoulder injury, returns to the squad on the bench. Neither Jackson or Henderson have played against New Zealand before.

The other replacements are Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion and Garry Ringrose, who all got game-time against Steven Hansen’s men in Chicago apart from Marmion and Ringrose. Ultan Dillane has missed training this week with a sore knee, while Keith Earls is nursing a dead leg.

Commenting on the one and only change in personnel, head coach Joe Schmidt said: “We thought it was probably better that Sean starts rather than come off the bench. He needs to feel his way into the game a little bit, to get a run straight from the warm-up into the game.

“Whereas Josh (van der Flier) has been with us for a bit longer, obviously came to Chicago, spent that time with us and did such a good job off the bench that his versatility, his engine at the end of the day might serve us well. So it was really just trying to keep the balance there.”
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v New Zealand, 2016 GUINNESS Series, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, November 19, kick-off 5.30pm):

PlayerClub/Province/Caps –
15. Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 70
14. Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster) 67
13. Jared Payne (Ulster) 17
12. Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 23
11. Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster) 26
10. Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 62
9.  Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 51
1. Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 34
2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt) 98
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 9
4. Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster) 42
5. Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 40
6. CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 8
7. Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) 43
8. Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) (vice-capt) 89


16. Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 54
17. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 60
18. Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 4
19. Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 26
20. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 3
21. Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht) 7
22. Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster) 17
23. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 1