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Ireland make one change but retain Johnny Sexton in starting team

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Ireland boss Andy Farrell has shrugged off the curious concussion controversy surrounding Johnny Sexton, naming his skipper to start against the All Blacks in Dunedin despite his short-lived appearance in last weekend’s tour opening defeat in Auckland.

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World Rugby had suggested that most players who suffered a concussion on the July tours would have to stand down for a minimum of twelve days under their tweaked regulations. This is what has happened to Jeremy Loughman and Dave Heffernan following their removal in the respective Maori All Blacks and New Zealand matches, but the situation regarding Sexton was somehow different.

The veteran failed his initial HIA at Eden Park following his first-half removal from the Test match but he passed his HIA2 two hours after his removal from play and on Tuesday, he then passed his HIA3. With “concussion not confirmed”, it meant that Sexton was cleared to play and he will now lead Ireland out at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

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The inclusion of Sexton has resulted in Ireland keeping their changes to a minimum with Mack Hansen selected to start on the right wing in place of Keith Earls. Hansen missed out in Auckland due to a positive virus test, leaving Farrell to pick Earls to start his second match in a few days after he was also included for the tour opener against the Maori All Blacks.

Failed virus tests had also done for Rob Herring and Finlay Bealham last weekend but the front-rowers have now been restored to the Ireland bench for the second Test at the expense of Heffernan and Tom O’Toole. Otherwise, it is as you were for the tourists.

Related

IRELAND (vs All Blacks, Saturday)
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 21 caps
14. Mack Hansen (Connacht) 4 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 43 caps
12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 58 caps
11. James Lowe (Leinster) 13 caps
10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 106 caps CAPTAIN
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 18 caps
1. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 44 caps
2. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 8 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 58 caps
4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 31 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 44 caps
6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 85 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 41 caps
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 18 caps

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Replacements:
16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 26 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 116 caps
18. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 23 caps
19. Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 6 caps
20. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 28 caps
21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 97 caps
22. Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 33 caps
23. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 38 caps

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