Ireland change four for All Blacks clash

Paola Ditto
Novembre 16, 2018

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has wound up pressure on his New Zealand-born Ireland counterpart Joe Schmidt ahead of Sunday's (NZ time) Test in Dublin between rugby's top-ranked teams, arguing the victor will be indisputably the best in the world.

Kearney plays for the first time this month having recovered from a shoulder injury. Keith Earls and Jacob Stockdale continue on the wings, reuniting the back-three from the third Test victory over the Wallabies.

Into the starting line-up comes Devin Toner in place of Iain Henderson in the second row.

Who would you rather have in your team, Dan Leavy or Ardie Savea?

At full-back, Roy Kearney will play instead of Jordan Larmour.

At the Aviva Stadium in 2016, the All Blacks responded to a defeat inflicted a fortnight earlier by Schmidt's side in Chicago with a ferociously physical display, including high tackes from Sam Cane and Malakai Fekitoa. There were good performances from the likes of Jack Conan, Will Addison stepping in at the last minute last week.

Hansen said the All Blacks have been trying to incorporate new tactics into their game and that means they haven't achieved their usual crispness or fluency. So, there's some disappointed players but they will be 100% behind the team that was selected.

"The feedback we got was there were some that were unnecessary". It's never ideal but even at the end of training we were still making some decisions for Saturday.

The world champion All Blacks have made just one injury-enforced change to the match-day squad to face Ireland in Saturday's one-off Test showdown in Dublin.

He added: "We weren't that far away in that Test (at home to New Zealand two years ago)". Saturday's game, therefore, could go a long way to putting one foot forward ahead of the tournament.

"Even then we got quite close to their line, Seanie (O'Brien) nearly went over, Rob Kearney was dragged down five metres short, so we weren't too far away".

"I think Bundee has fully demonstrated his commitment through the previous year", the Ireland coach said. "Apart from that, when the game's up and running it's likely to be fairly manic".

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