Andy Farrell defends his Ireland selection for 2nd Test
Andy Farrell insisted his players deserved a shot at redemption in resisting an overhaul for Ireland’s second Test in New Zealand.
Ireland were thumped 42-19 by the All Blacks in Auckland last weekend but head coach Farrell has kept faith with the bulk of that starting line-up.
Mack Hansen has replaced Keith Earls on the wing, but Farrell has otherwise named the same remaining 14 for Saturday’s clash in Dunedin.
Johnny Sexton will start at fly-half after passing head injury assessments having been removed from the first Test following a blow to the head.
“There’s all sorts of different ramifications that go into selection, sometimes players probably have not performed to the standards they judge themselves on,” said Farrell.
“To not give people a chance to correct that is sometimes missing an opportunity, so there’s a little bit of that.
“Some people are unlucky probably not to start because they had good impact off the bench etcetera, they understand that as well.
“This has been more of a straightforward week obviously, and a lot of the lads have an opportunity to go again.”
New Zealand ran in six tries to Ireland’s three at Eden Park last weekend, with Farrell well aware the tourists must sharpen up in defence.
However, the former dual-code international also insisted Ireland “know the answers” to the All Blacks’ questions.
“To be honest the lads are in a good place, obviously now, the Thursday before a Test match you would expect them to be,” said Farrell.
“But even early in the week, there’s a bit of doubt comes in when you don’t know the answers – but they know the answers, they know the bits that they need to get right.
“They know the access they gave the All Blacks and they know that they can’t do that.
“They know first hand that if you do that you’ll be behind your own posts.
“There’s been a few things to fix, and there’s a bit of excitement to build up now.”
Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium boasts a permanent roof, dubbed locally as the glasshouse.
Farrell admitted that covering helps accelerate the pace of the game.
“We all know it suits the All Blacks; every game I’ve watched play at the stadium has been fantastic, it’s always quick when we’ve been there in the past,” said Farrell.
“The atmosphere is fantastic, it’s not the biggest of stadiums but it’s electric in there because of the roof.
“I expect more of what we’ve seen in Super Rugby and other times New Zealand have played there, it will be quick and the ball will be fizzing around I’m sure.”
Ireland team to play New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday:
H Keenan (Leinster), M Hansen (Connacht), G Ringrose, R Henshaw, J Lowe, J Sexton, J Gibson-Park; A Porter, D Sheehan, T Furlong (all Leinster), T Beirne (Munster), J Ryan (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), J Van Der Flier, C Doris (both Leinster).
Replacements: R Herring (Ulster), C Healy (Leinster), F Bealham (Connacht), K Treadwell (Ulster), J Conan (Leinster), C Murray, J Carbery (both Munster), B Aki (Connacht).
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