Ireland make four changes for All Blacks game

Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney are drafted into the Ireland backs for Saturday's game against the All Blacks

Ireland v New Zealand
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 17 November Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Coverage: Radio commentary on BBC Radio Ulster; live text and match report on BBC Sport website.

Ireland have made four changes for Saturday’s game against New Zealand, with Rob Kearney, Garry Ringrose, Devin Toner and Dan Leavy included.

Experienced full-back Kearney takes over from Jordan Larmour and Ringrose replaces Will Addison in the continued absence of centre Robbie Henshaw.

Lock Toner starts instead of Iain Henderson and Leavy takes the place of the injured Sean O’Brien.

Flanker Josh van der Flier joins Henderson and Larmour on the bench.

Leavy impressed after coming on for O’Brien as a replacement in last weekend’s 28-17 win over Argentina. and retains his place in the side despite sitting out training on Thursday morning.

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“We expect Dan to train full tomorrow,” head coach Joe Schmidt said. “I think with Dan, he’s only really recently back playing after injury so we’re just trying to manage him.

“He trained Monday and Tuesday – trained very well Tuesday – so to train Thursday and Friday I think would be a little bit too much. Tomorrow’s [Friday’s] session is a bit lighter so we’re expecting that he will be up running and ready.”

Ireland’s line-out difficulties against the Pumas have led to a recall for Toner alongside his Leinster team-mate James Ryan in the second row.

Kearney’s recall was widely expected, with his aerial prowess also possibly a factor in Schmidt’s thinking after youngster Larmour looked a little shaky under the high ball last weekend.

Ireland XV vs New Zealand

Crotty replaces injured Williams for All Blacks

World champions New Zealand have made one change, with Ryan Crotty replacing injured Sonny Bill Williams.

Centre Williams sustained shoulder damage during last weekend’s 16-15 comeback win over England.

Crotty’s promotion from the bench sees Anton Lienert-Brown drafted into the matchday 23.

“These are the types of Test matches that gets everyone up,” said coach Steve Hansen this week.

“It’s number one versus number two, and there’s a real excitement that’s building as we get closer to Saturday.”

Schmidt seeking to settle the scores

Ireland will be aiming for their first victory against the All Blacks on home soil and Saturday’s meeting will be the fourth encounter between the teams since New Zealander Schmidt took charge in 2013.

Ryan Crotty’s late try and Aaron Cruden’s re-taken conversion sealed a two-point win for New Zealand in the autumn series five years ago while Ireland’s 2016 victory in Chicago was followed by a bruising encounter in Dublin a fortnight later as Malakai Fekitoa scored two tries to help the visitors to take swift revenge.

New Zealand's Malakai Fekitoa scores a try against Ireland

“We weren’t too far away in that Test,” added Schmidt.

“[It was] 14-9 with 15 minutes to go – that’s a one-score game – when Malakai Fekitoa scored the try that gave them the breach, I suppose, that was a little too far to cross.

“Even then we got quite close to their line, Seanie [O’Brien] almost went over, Rob Kearney was dragged down five metres short so we weren’t too far away. So along those lines, we’ve just got to be prepared for what they’re going to bring.

“I think they’ve got a top side out and we know that they’ll come after us in some areas because they did last time. They came at us off kick off.

“They certainly – based on what they did to England last week – will come after our line-out and they go after most scrums but that’s been an area of strength for us, so we’ll keep trying to make sure that stays rock solid for us.”

Sonny Bill Williams (left) and Ryan Crotty

Hansen again opts for two playmakers

Hansen has again selected two playmakers with Beauden Barrett named at fly-half and Damian McKenzie remaining at full-back.

Scrum-half Aaron Smith will play his 82nd Test to become the most capped All Blacks scrum-half in history, overtaking Justin Marshall.

Brodie Retallick and Samuel Whitelock will set a new record for an All-Blacks’ lock partnership, starting in their 50th Test together.

Hansen said the squad is similar to the line-up he will be looking at as they chase a third straight World Cup in Japan next year.

“The whole year we’ve been looking at combinations to make sure next year is really clear in our own minds,” he said.

Ireland: Rob Kearney; Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton, Kieran Marmion; Cian Healy, Rory Best (capt), Tadhg Furlong; Devin Toner, James Ryan; Peter O’Mahony, Dan Leavy, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Iain Henderson, Josh van der Flier, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour.

New Zealand: Damian McKenzie; Ben Smith, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Rieko Ioane; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (capt), Ardie Savea, Liam Squire; Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock; Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Karl Tu’inukuafe.

Replacements: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Scott Barrett, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Richie Mo’unga, Anton Lienert-Brown.

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