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Bundee Aki named to captain Ireland against Maori All Blacks

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Kiwi-born Ireland star Bundee Aki has been named to captain his side against the Maori All Blacks in Hamilton on Wednesday.

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Aki will take charge of Ireland in the mid-week fixture, which is the first match of Ireland’s highly-anticipated five-game tour of New Zealand.

The 32-year-old midfielder, who made his name with Counties Manukau and the Chiefs before joining Connacht in 2014, is one of several notable figures named by Ireland boss Andy Farrell for the non-capped match.

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The match against the Maori All Blacks will act as Aki’s first game back at FMG Stadium Waikato since he left the Chiefs eight years ago after he won the Super Rugby title with them in 2013.

Also included in the starting lineup is wings Keith Earls and Jordan Larmour, both of whom are mainstays in Ireland’s frontline side.

Experienced prop Cian Healy, veteran halfback Conor Murray and test regulars Jack Conan, Joey Carbery, Finlay Bealham and Niall Scannell have also been named on the bench.

Carbery, the Munster first-five, is also a New Zealand-born product, while Scannell’s inclusion in the match day side comes on the same day of his arrival in New Zealand as injury cover for fellow hooker Rob Herring.

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A total of five uncapped players – loosehead prop Jeremy Loughman, lock Joe McCarthy, blindside flanker Cian Prendergast, first-five Ciaran Frawley and fullback Jimmy O’Brien – have been picked in Ireland’s starting team.

The remainder of the run-on side is made up by hooker Dave Heffernan, tighthead prop Tom O’Toole, lock Kieran Treadwell, loose forwards Nick Timoney and Gavin Coombes, halfback Craig Casey and centre James Hume.

On the bench, lock Ryan Baird and fullback Michael Lowry join Ireland’s experienced contingent in the reserves.

Kick-off for Wednesday’s match between Ireland and the Maori All Blacks is scheduled for 7:05pm NZT [8:05am UTC+1].

Ireland team to play Maori All Blacks

1. Jeremy Loughman*
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Tom O’Toole
4. Joe McCarthy*
5. Kieran Treadwell
6. Cian Prendergast*
7. Nick Timoney
8. Gavin Coombes
9. Craig Casey
10. Ciaran Frawley*
11. Keith Earls
12. Bundee Aki (c)
13. James Hume
14. Jordan Larmour
15. Jimmy O’Brien*

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Reserves

16. Niall Scannell
17. Cian Healy
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Ryan Baird
20. Jack Conan
21. Conor Murray
22. Joey Carbery
23. Michael Lowry

* – denotes uncapped player

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