Picking An Ireland Team To Take On The All Blacks This Weekend
The All Blacks will land in Dublin this weekend, no doubt seeking revenge.
Last time round in Chicago, Ireland shocked the rugby world, with their first victory over the All Blacks in history after 111 years of trying. Joe Schmidt’s men put in one of the best display’s we’ve ever seen from any Irish team in a famous win.
Ireland scored five tries that day with Jordi Murphy, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Simon Zebo and Robbie Henshaw all getting on the scoresheet in an emphatic 40-29 win, but what side should take the field this weekend?
New Zealand will welcome back the likes of world class pairing Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick in the second-row, while Ireland will be forced to make at least one change, with Jordi Murphy ruled out for an extended period.
Here’s the side we reckon should line out against the All Blacks at the Aviva.
1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best
3. Tadgh Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. Donnacha Ryan
6. CJ Stander
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip
9. Conor Murray
10. Johnny sexton
11. Keith Earls
12. Robbie Henshaw
13. Jared Payne
14. Andrew Trimble
15. Rob Kearney
We’ve made two changes for the side that secured that famous win at Soldier Field. The most difficult decision Schmidt has to make is in the back-row. Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien both made their returns this past weekend against Canada, but their is only one spot up for grabs. Stander and Heaslip were immense against the All Blacks in Chicago and no doubt will start at six & eight.
The only spot up for grabs is Jordi Murphy’s coveted openside role. Josh van der Flier came on and did a superb job in that role and for many people, perhaps deserves the nod, but for us it has to be Sean O’Brien. The Tullow man brings another dimension that not many other flankers can bring. O’Brien probably won’t be able to finish the game due to the All Black’s high tempo but we’d rather see him start than come on as an impact sub.
We saw in Chicago, to be the All Blacks you have to come out of blocks firing. Start O’Brien, get in their faces and try and grab some early scores again. Van der Flier can shore things up from the bench.
On the wing, we’ve gone with Keith Earls, instead of his Munster compatriot, Simon Zebo. The Cork winger was superb in America, but Earls has the experience in what is going to be a much different game at the Aviva. Earls was sharp, aggressive and physical, using his feet and balance to carve out space and was a real handful for the Canadian defence this past weekend. Zebo will get a spot in the bench as he can cover the wings and fullback.
The real test for Schmidt will come in the form of picking his bench. He will need to empty it against the All Blacks so his selection will be critical. He’s got a lot of talent available to him, let’s hope he can filter through it and make the right call for this weekend.