Joe Schmidt has just named his 23 to take on the All-Blacks on Saturday evening. His hand has been forced to a certain extent by injuries to Robbie Henshaw and Sean O’Brien, while it was also confirmed earlier this week that Conor Murray would not be parachuted into the team in time to face the Kiwi’s this weekend. On a positive note, Rob Kearney, Gary Ringrose, Bundee Aki and Kieran Marmion all are named after recovering from their respective knocks.
In the front row Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong start on either side of captain Rory Best. Devin Toner will start alongside James Ryan in the second row. Iain Henderson offers cover for both second row and lock off the bench.
The back row picture became a bit clearer after Sean O’Brien’s unfortunate arm-break last Saturday. Peter O’Mahony, C.J.Stander and Dan Leavy comprise the three back row spots. Sexton and Marmion are named as expected as the half-back pairing and due Robbie Henshaw’s injury Bundee Aki and Gary Ringrose will be the centre pairing. Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls provide the width on the wings, while the reliable pair of hands under the high ball offered by Rob Kearney will be a welcome return at full-back.