Leinster duo get nod for All Blacks test
Initial whisperings from the stalls suggest Ireland coach Declan Kidney has gone for a conservative selection to face the might of the All Blacks at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
With the exception of Tom Court, who came in for the injured Tony Buckley, it’s the same starting line-up who lost to world champions South Africa in the opening test.
Strong cases could surely have been made for the Munster duo of Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer to start ahead of Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan.
Stringer has been in good form of late and with the All Blacks breathing down your neck around the scrum, Stringer’s quick ball may have offered more compared to Reddan, who has been criticised for taking the extra step and time. O’Gara made an immediate impression when coming off the bench against South African and kicked 15 of Ireland’s 20 points against Samoa.
However, it’s the Leinster halfback partnership as opposed to the Munster duo who are preferred for this one.
There appears a reluctance by selectors to break away from the provincial divide and try something new. Stringer and Sexton, for example, have yet to play together at test level.
Was this the time to try and test new formations with the World Cup in mind or have the selectors got it right for what will surely be the toughest test of the autumn series?
Ireland team (v New Zealand): C Healy, R Best, T Court, D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll, S Ferris, D Wallace, J Heaslip, R Kearney, T Bowe, B O’Driscoll (C), G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald, J Sexton, E Reddan. Replacements: S Cronin, J Hayes, D Toner, D Leamy, P Stringer, R O’Gara, K Earls.
New Zealand team (v Ireland): M Muliaina, C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, H Gear, D Carter, A Ellis; K Read, R McCaw (C), J Kaino, T Donnelly, B Thorn, O Franks, H Elliot, T Woodcock. Replacements: A Hore, J Afoa, A Boric, L Messam, A Mathewson, S Donald, S Bill Williams.