Ireland have selected Jonathan Sexton at fly-half for Saturday’s Test against New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium. The Leinster player has been preferred to his more experienced Munster counterpart Ronan O’Gara, who is named among the replacements.
Coach Declan Kidney has made 11 changes from the team which beat Samoa but just one from those who lost to South Africa.
Tom Court is retained at prop as Tony Buckley remains injured, whilst Cian Healy has recovered from a dead leg. Rob Kearney comes into the side at full-back with Luke Fitzgerald moving to the left wing. Gordon D’Arcy resumes his provincial partnership alongside captain Brian O’Driscoll, with Eoin Reddan also recalled to the starting XV.
All Blacks lock Brad Thorn is out for New Zealand after failing to recover from a hamstring strain and he is replaced in the team by Anthony Boric.
The match will see New Zealand captain Richie McCaw and full-back Mils Muliaina play their 93rd Tests, becoming the most capped All Blacks of all time.
Ireland: R Kearney, T Bowe, B O’Driscoll (capt), G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, E Reddan; C Healy, R Best, T Court; D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll; S Ferris, D Wallace, J Heaslip.
Replacements: S Cronin, J Hayes, D Toner, D Leamy, P Stringer, R O’Gara, K Earls.
New Zealand: M Muliaina; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, H Gear; D Carter, A Ellis; T Woodcock, H Elliott, O Franks; A Boric, T Donnelly; J Kaino, R McCaw (capt), K Read.
Replacements: A Hore, J Afoa, S Whitelock, L Messam, A Mathewson, S Donald, S B Williams