Brian O’Driscoll and his Ireland team-mates will bid to make history this evening by beating New Zealand for the first time. When the sides met in New Plymouth last June, they shared out 94 points. But a much tighter game is expected at the Aviva Stadium.
2010 GUINNESS SERIES TEST MATCH: Saturday, November 20
IRELAND v NEW ZEALAND, Aviva Stadium, 5.30pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC Two)
Team News: The Ireland team to play New Zealand in the third game of the GUINNESS Series shows 11 changes from the side that defeated Samoa 20-10 last weekend.
Rob Kearney has recovered from the knee injury he picked up against South Africa and comes back into the side at full-back, with Luke Fitzgerald moving to the left wing.
Gordon D’Arcy resumes his centre partnership with Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll, and their Leinster colleagues Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan have also been recalled to the starting line-up.
Up front, Tom Court switches to the tighthead prop with Cian Healy and Rory Best completing the front row.
Donncha O’Callaghan will be partnered by Mick O’Driscoll in the second row, while Stephen Ferris and David Wallace return to the back row alongside Jamie Heaslip.
With the team announcement delayed from Tuesday to Thursday, head coach Declan Kidney said: “There can be a slight tactical advantage in doing it (delaying selection), in that it gives the opposition less time to take a look at you.
“It’s similar to what New Zealand are doing, they kept it until Thursday. We’re into the third match of the series as well.”
On the selection process, he added: “We made a lot of changes for last week, we said we wanted to build a panel. And in building a panel, that’s never quite as easy as a theory of sure, throw a few names up in the air and see who comes down for it.
We looked at it individually, we looked at it collectively. By and large it’s pretty much the same team that went out against South Africa. Except, obviously Tom (Court) is in and gets his opportunity.
“Tony was ruled out in the subs. Donnacha (Ryan) is out, and Devin (Toner) comes in. That’s the whole idea being having a squad, so that you would have fellas to slot in and slot out.
“It was done on an individual basis, and you see how it looks collectively. Then you say they deserve another go, because you have to back guys and that’s what we’re doing.”
Ireland have played New Zealand on 23 previous occasions at Test level, drawing once and losing 22 times. There have been some near misses along the way and a difficult but not insurmountable task lays ahead at the Aviva Stadium this weekend.
“We know better than anybody else that our performances have been below what we’re capable of in the last two matches,” added Kidney.
“We know that we have to step up. When you’re taking on New Zealand, who are playing at the top of their game at the moment, we know that we have to be firing on all cylinders. We wouldn’t hide from those facts.
“Percentage wise, I wouldn’t try and say what we have to try and lift up, but we know that there’s an awful lot of things that have happened in the last two matches that are within our control and we’ve worked to fix them.”
Meanwhile, The New Zealand team to play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium shows six changes to the side that started last weekend’s 49-3 victory over Scotland.
The match will see New Zealand’s long-serving captain Richie McCaw and full-back Mils Muliaina play their 93rd Tests, becoming the most capped All Blacks of all time, after equalling former skipper Sean Fitzpatrick’s record at Murrayfield last Saturday.
Head coach Graham Henry has tweaked his team, with three of the six personnel changes coming in the back-line.
Cory Jane has recovered from chest and shoulder injuries to start on the right wing, Ma’a Nonu replaces recent debutant Sonny Bill Williams at centre and Andrew Ellis comes in to partner Dan Carter at half-back.
In the forwards, lock Tom Donnelly gets his first start since last month’s clash with Australia in Hong Kong, while Jerome Kaino returns to the blindside flanker berth with Liam Messam dropping to the replacements bench.
Commenting on the team selection, Henry said: “One of the aims of this tour is to build the foundations of the team for the future so there have only been a few changes from the team that beat Scotland.
“We were pleased with the physicality and accuracy shown against the Scots and we will look to improve on that this weekend. However, the team also knows they will up against a very good Irish team which they respect.”
Lock Brad Thorn was poised to play his 50th Test in an All Blacks career which began back in 2003. However, a hamstring strain has forced him out of the initially selected team.
With the 35-year-old Thorn ruled out, Anthony Boric slots into the second row and Sam Whitelock, who made a try-scoring debut against Ireland last June, has been added to the replacements.
IRELAND: Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tom Court, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Stephen Ferris, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, John Hayes, Devin Toner, Denis Leamy, Peter Stringer, Ronan O’Gara, Keith Earls.
NEW ZEALAND: Mils Muliaina; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear; Dan Carter, Andrew Ellis; Tony Woodcock, Hikawera Elliot, Owen Franks, Anthony Boric, Tom Donnelly, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (capt), Kieran Read.
Replacements: Andrew Hore, John Afoa, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Alby Mathewson, Stephen Donald, Sonny Bill Williams.
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Carlo Damasco (Italy)
Television Match Official: Hugh Watkins (Wales)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 8/1; Draw: 28/1; New Zealand to win: 1/14
Pre-Match Quotes: Rory Best (Ireland) – “I think a win would boost the country. Doing something that has never been done before would give everyone a big lift throughout the island.
“When we achieved the Grand Slam a couple of years ago, it was a big lift and this is an equally big challenge for us.
“The people of Ireland love to see a national team doing well, they love to get behind it. We are very hopeful we can get a result that will lift everyone on Saturday.
“There’s no doubt we need that crowd support and there’s no doubt we will get it, regardless of numbers of bums on seats.
“There’s still that passionate crowd that really only Ireland can produce. They are there through thick and thin. Hopefully on Saturday we’ll fill the place and give the supporters something to get behind.
“New Zealand are the best team in the world. To beat the best, you have to be somewhere near your best on the day.
“We know that and we will be looking for big improvements. There is that desire to have a performance this autumn. We have a lot of belief in ourselves. We’ve looked long and hard at ourselves over the last two games.”
Richie McCaw (New Zealand) – “(The stadium) is a wee bit different now, compared to 2001 when I made my debut here. It’s pretty special to be back here, I’ve got some good memories of playing here. It’s a pretty awesome stadium now.
“It was obviously a pretty packed house, from what I remember and it was pretty loud — especially when we were down by a few points, I think the Irish crowd they certainly saw their team was in with a shot of winning the game and it got pretty noisy.
“But as the game wore on, we got back in front and it quietened down a bit. It was a cool stadium, an old stadium, but a pretty cool one (in which) to be running out in front of all those people. I suppose that’s the way I remember it.
“If we don’t turn up and play properly, anything can happen on Saturday. Rather than the last couple of weeks, I know they (Ireland) will be better for having those two performances.
“Back in June, even though the first half was the way it was, when they were down to 14 they certainly played some good rugby and put us under pressure.
“We realise if we allow that to happen, they have got the ability. A lot of the players are the same. We’ve seen little bits, when they get good front foot ball they’ve got the players that can put teams under pressure. That’s the way we look at it, I suppose.”
Pre-Match Links –
Recent Meetings –
Saturday, June 10, 2006 – Summer Tour – New Zealand 34 Ireland 23, Waikato Stadium
Saturday, June 17, 2006 – Summer Tour – New Zealand 27 Ireland 17, Eden Park
Saturday, June 7, 2008 – Summer Tour – New Zealand 21 Ireland 11, Westpac Stadium
Saturday, November 15, 2008 – Autumn Test – Ireland 3 New Zealand 22, Croke Park
Saturday, June 12, 2010 – Summer Tour – New Zealand 66 Ireland 28, Yarrow Stadium
Related Links –
Click here to get Tommy Bowe at 14/1 to score the first try and a free €;20 bet, courtesy of Paddy Power Bookmakers