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Ireland make 1 change for ABs, but it isn't a promotion for Murray

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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Andy Farrell has named an Ireland team to face the All Blacks that shows just a single change from the XV that put nine tries past Japan in last Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series opener in Dublin. There was a suggestion that recent Lions skipper Conor Murray could come into consideration for a promotion into the starting team but Kiwi Jamison Gibson-Park, who was top-notch against the Japanese, has retained the No9 jersey for this fixture against the country of his birth.

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Instead, it is another Lions tourist who has been promoted from the bench, Iain Henderson taking over at lock from the benched Tadhg Beirne, another of the Ireland players who were on the 2021 Lions tour to South Africa.

Other than that, Farrell has resisted the temptation to alter a line-up that blew the Japanese away with some newfound creativity that they will now try to reproduce against an All Blacks team that shows 14 changes following their weekend win over Italy. Sevu Reece is the only player to be retained by Ian Foster, who has reverted to the majority of the XV that hammered Wales last month.

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Finn Russell on fighting water boys, facing the Springboks and expensive watches
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Finn Russell on fighting water boys, facing the Springboks and expensive watches

While Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton is facing the All Blacks for the 14th time in his lengthy career, this Saturday will be the first time that four of his fellow backs – Gibson-Park, Hugo Keenan, Andrew Conway and James Lowe (another Kiwi) – will take on New Zealand, a country that Ireland defeated in 2016 and 2018.

Aside from Henderson getting the nod over Beirne, who now drops to the Autumn Nations bench, the one other alteration to the Ireland replacements sees Rob Herring chosen as reserve hooker in place of rookie Dan Sheehan who made his Test debut last weekend.

IRELAND (vs All Blacks, Saturday)
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 14 caps
14. Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 26 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 35 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 32 caps
11. James Lowe (Leinster) 7 caps
10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 100 caps CAPTAIN
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 11 caps
1. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 38 caps
2. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 14 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 50 caps
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 64 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 38 caps
6. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 10 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 33 caps
8. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 21 caps

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Replacements:
16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 22 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 110 caps
18. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 17 caps
19. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 23 caps
20. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 77 caps
21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 90 caps
22. Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 25 caps
23. Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 94 caps

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