Joe Schmidt Reveals Why He Picked Sean O’Brien To Start Against The All Blacks

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Joe Schmidt has revealed why he chose to start Sean O’Brien this weekend against the All Blacks in Dublin.

O’Brien has only recently returned from injury and was left out of the famous win over New Zealand in Chicago. The Leinster flanker started against Canada this past weekend, putting in an excellent performance, proving he’s almost back to his very best.

Leinster teammate Josh van der Flier came off the bench early in the first-half at Soldier Field due to a knee injury suffered by Jordi Murphy, earning plenty of plaudits. Peter O’Mahony also returned this past weekend, but doesn’t make the squad due to in-form Munster teammate CJ Stander.

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Schmidt was asked today as to why he decided to go with O’Brien over Van der Flier and he had this to say:

“We thought it was probably better that Sean start, rather than come off the bench, as he needs to feel his way into the game a little bit, to get a run straight from the warm-up into the game”

“Whereas Josh has been fit and with us a bit longer, and obviously came to Chicago, spent that time with us and did such a good job off the bench, that his versatility, his engine at the end of the day, might serve us well.”

Ireland’s XV remains unchanged to the side that beat the All Blacks in Chicago other than O’Brien coming in at seven, with Simon Zebo retaining his spot on the wing and Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner, starting in the second-row. Iain Henderson returns from a shoulder injury to take a spot on the bench, while Paddy Jackson comes in instead of Joey Carberry.

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