O'Brien returns to Ireland team for All Blacks rematch


Ireland’s Sean O’Brien and New Zealand’s Aaron Smith will both start in Saturday’s game in Dublin
Guinness November Series: Ireland v New Zealand
Date: Saturday, 19 November Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on commentary on BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Sean O’Brien’s inclusion in place of Jordi Murphy is Ireland’s only change from the side which stunned New Zealand two weeks ago for Saturday’s rematch.

O’Brien, 29, played against Canada last weekend in his first Irish duty since damaging a hamstring in February.

With Murphy ruled out by a knee injury, Joe Schmidt retains the other 14 men who started in Chicago for the contest at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

New Zealand include 10 of the team which started in the Chicago defeat.

First-choice locks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick both return with Israel Dagg, Malakai Fekitoa and Anton Lienert-Brown also included.

Flanker Jerome Kaino, named at lock in Chicago, is ruled out by a calf strain.

Waisake Naholo, George Moala, Ryan Crotty and Patrick Tuipulotu also drop out of the team that played in the USA.

O’Brien only Canada starter to retain place

Ireland coach Schmidt opted not to risk O’Brien in Chicago so the Leinster flanker instead played for 60 minutes in the 52-21 win over Canada in his first Ireland game since picking up his serious hamstring injury against France in Paris.

O’Brien is the only Ireland inclusion to retain his starting role from the win over the Canadians

Josh van der Flier will provide replacement back row, leaving no spot in the 23 for Peter O’Mahony, with fit-again Iain Henderson also named on a bench which includes his Ulster team-mate Paddy Jackson and emerging Leinster centre Garry Ringrose.

Schmidt confirmed that Connacht lock Ultan Dillane (knee) and Munster Keith Earls (dead leg) were not considered for this weekend’s game because of knocks.

NZ missed Whitelock and Retallick in Chicago

Sam Whitelock (right) will partner other first-choice lock Brodie Retallick for the All Blacks

New Zealand badly missed the presence of locks Whitelock and Retallick in Chicago, both in contact and the lineout, as the Irish clinched their first victory over the All Blacks in 111 years.

With regular blindside flanker Kaino missing, Liam Squire joins skipper Kieran Read and Sam Cane in the back row in what appears to be close to Steve Hansen’s strongest available side.

World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett returns at fly-half after missing last weekend’s 68-10 win over Italy.

Barrett will again link up with scrum-half Aaron Smith, who struggled in Chicago after missing New Zealand’s two previous games because of an off-field incident.

Jared Payne has formed a formidable midfield partnership with Robbie Henshaw

Coach Hansen will hope that wing Dagg will provide a safe pair of hands under the high ball that Ireland used to great effect at Soldier Field.

After Ireland’s first win over the All Blacks at the 29th attempt two weeks ago, Hansen is claiming that Schmidt’s side will go into the Aviva Stadium game as favourites although the bookies and Joe Schmidt don’t see it that way.

“I wouldn’t suggest that Steve Hansen become a bookmaker,” laughed Schmidt at Ireland’s team announcement on Thursday.

However, Schmidt added that he didn’t believe Hansen was indulging mind games.

“I don’t think so, I know Steve pretty well. Based on a recent result he’s put his summation on that.

“(But) I don’t think he believes we’ll pay too much heed to that.”

Ireland: R Kearney; A Trimble, J Payne, R Henshaw, S Zebo; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, T Furlong; D Toner, D Ryan; CJ Stander, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy, F Bealham, I Henderson, J van der Flier, K Marmion, P Jackson, G Ringrose.

New Zealand: B Smith; I Dagg, M Fekitoa, A Lienert-Brown, J Savea; B Barrett, A Smith; J Moody, D Coles, O Franks; B Retallick, S Whitelock; L Squire, S Can, K Read (capt).

Replacements: C Taylor, W Crockett, C Faumuina, S Barrett, A Savea, TJ Perenara, A Cruden, W Naholo.

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