Declan Kidney shuffles his backs pack for third NZ Test
Ahead of the third and final Test against the mighty All Blacks on Saturday, Irish coach Declan Kidney has made some changes, including bringing in Ulster’s Paddy Wallace at 12.
Are you over last Saturday yet? We’re not. The gut-wrenching defeat in Christchurch last week, courtesy of a last-minute Dan Carter drop goal, still rankles like a stone in our shoe. We deserved something from that game, at least a draw, maybe even a win if that scrum call went the other way near the finish.
Anyway, if we feel this upset, we can only imagine Declan Kidney and his team feel even worse. We now have to hope they can turn that pain into another performance, this time in Hamilton.
Twelve of the men who lined out last week return to the fray this week. Injuries robbed Kidney of the services of Gordon D’Arcy and Jamie Heaslip. In place of the two Leinster men come Ulster’s Paddy Wallace at 12 while Munster’s Peter O’Mahony slots in at the base of the scrum in place of Heaslip.
Wallace’s inclusion is something of a surprise as he only arrived in New Zealand this week. Keith Earls, who missed out last week through injury, is fit but he is put on the left wing, meaning Andrew Trimble is dropped to the replacements bench. Fergus McFadden takes the right-wing slot.
Elsewhere it’s as you were. The front row, which had such a good day at scrum time last week, remains the same with Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross, while Conor Murray and Jonny Sexton will be the 9-10 axis.
The only other change comes on the bench as Ulster’s Chris Henry comes in now that O’Mahony is in the first XV.
Any Irish fans looking for some good news might be heartened by the news that New Zealand have made six changes to their XV, with the biggest being the omission of last week’s heartbreaker Carter after he injured his hamstring. Aaron Cruden steps in at 10.
Ireland: 15-Rob Kearney, 14-Fergus McFadden, 13-Brian O’Driscoll (captain), 12-Paddy Wallace, 11-Keith Earls, 10-Jonathan Sexton, 9-Conor Murray; 8-Peter O’Mahony, 7-Sean O’Brien, 6-Kevin McLaughlin, 5-Donnacha Ryan, 4-Dan Tuohy, 3-Mike Ross, 2-Rory Best, 1-Cian Healy
Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-Declan Fitzpatrick, 18-Donncha O’Callaghan, 19-Chris Henry, 20-Eoin Reddan, 21-Ronan O’Gara, 22-Andrew Trimble.
New Zealand: 15-Israel Dagg; 14-Ben Smith, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Sonny Bill Williams, 11-Hosea Gear; 10-Aaron Cruden, 9-Aaron Smith; 8-Richie McCaw (captain), 7-Sam Cane, 6-Liam Messam, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Luke Romano, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Andrew Hore, 1-Tony Woodcock
Replacements: 16-Keven Mealamu, 17-Ben Franks, 18-Brodie Retallick, 19-Adam Thomson, 20-Piri Weepu, 21-Beauden Barrett, 22-Tamati Ellison