Head coach Andy Farrell has confirmed the Ireland team to play the Māori All Blacks at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Tuesday (kick-off 7.05pm local time/8.05am Irish time).
Keith Earls captains the side for the second and final uncapped midweek match of the tour, as Ireland seek to square the series against the Māori All Blacks having lost the first fixture in Hamilton.
Ciaran Frawley and Craig Casey are retained at half-back, Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey, who is back in green for the first time since the July 2021 win over the USA, comes in to partner Earls in midfield.
Belfast youngster Michael Lowry is introduced at full-back, with Jimmy O’Brien shifting to the left wing and Jordan Larmour continuing on the right.
Niall Scannell’s inclusion at hooker is the third and final personnel change. Jeremy Loughman and Tom O’Toole complete the front row, backed up by Joe McCarthy and Kieran Treadwell in the engine room.
Munster’s Gavin Coombes, one of Ireland’s try scorers from the first Māori clash, packs down at number 8 in a retained back row combination that also features Cian Prendergast and Nick Timoney.
The selected bench includes six players who got game-time in the historic win over New Zealand in Dunedin. Mack Hansen, a starter in the second Test, Conor Murray and Joey Carbery are the replacement backs.
The forward options are Rob Herring, Finlay Bealham, Ryan Baird and Jack Conan, along with Leinster prop Ed Byrne who linked up with the touring party as an injury call-up on July 2.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s game, which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Action, Farrell said: “Keith’s standing and status within the group are of the highest order so that’s an easy one. There’s no more deserving of a man to captain Ireland against the Māoris.
“It gave me a lot of pleasure asking him to do it. He’s a proud man and he’s really looking forward to it. Keith played in the first Māori game and then he backed up (for the first Test), which is tough to do in a Test match, and scored a try.
“He didn’t play in the second Test obviously but the likes of him, Jack Conan, everyone to be honest, Conor (Murray), etc., their attitude has been absolutely top class.
“There’s only been one thing on their minds and that’s how can they help the team-mates that are probably playing in front of them better.”
He added: “This, as we have been saying all along, is an opportunity to grow the group. A chance for the guys who have had to wait two weeks for another chance. Another opportunity to show us how much they have improved.
“When you put two or three kids into a good side, say the Test side, everyone gets dragged along but when you put a lot of inexperienced players together, then cohesion is very hard to come by.
“Look, they have had two weeks to learn those lessons, be more disciplined, and to make sure they understand what it takes to win a big game. This certainly is big for them.”
IRELAND Team & Replacements v (Māori All Blacks, 2022 Summer Tour, Sky Stadium, Wellington, Tuesday, July 12, kick-off 7.05pm local time/8.05am Irish Time):
15. Michael Lowry (Banbridge/Ulster) 1
14. Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 30
13. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) (capt) 97
12. Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/Ulster) 6
11. Jimmy O’Brien (Naas/Leinster) *
10. Ciaran Frawley (Skerries/Leinster) *
9. Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster) 5
1. Jeremy Loughman (Garryowen/Munster) *
2. Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 20
3. Tom O’Toole (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 2
4. Joe McCarthy (Dublin University/Leinster) *
5. Kieran Treadwell (Ballymena/Ulster) 7
6. Cian Prendergast (Connacht) *
7. Nick Timoney (Banbridge/Ulster) 2
8. Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster) 2
16. Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 27
17. Ed Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 6
18. Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 24
19. Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster) 8
20. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 29
21. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 98
22. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 34
23. Mack Hansen (Connacht) 5
* Denotes uncapped player at Test level
Ireland 2022 Summer Tour Fixtures:
Māori All Blacks 32 IRELAND 17
FMG Stadium, Hamilton
New Zealand 42 IRELAND 19
Eden Park, Auckland
New Zealand 12 IRELAND 23
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Māori All Blacks v IRELAND
Sky Stadium, Wellington, Tuesday, July 12, kick-off 8.05am Irish time
New Zealand v IRELAND
Sky Stadium, Wellington, Saturday, July 16, kick-off 8.05am Irish time