New Zealand v Ireland: O'Mahony to start for visitors as Healy passed fit

Peter O'Mahony
As one of Ireland's strongest lineout operators O'Mahony is considered crucial against a formidable New Zealand set-piece
New Zealand v Ireland
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland Date: Saturday, 2 July Kick-off: 08:05 BST
Coverage: Live text commentary and match report on BBC Sport website.

Peter O'Mahony will start at blindside flanker as Ireland look to beat the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time in Saturday's opening Test.

Cian Healy has overcome an injury sustained in Wednesday's defeat by the Maori All Blacks and is on the bench.

Keith Earls is the only player from the Maori game to retain his starting place for the match at Eden Park, Auckland.

Meanwhile, Crusaders wing Leicester Fainga'anuku will make his New Zealand debut having been selected on the left.

The All Blacks are without Covid-hit trio Will Jordan, Jack Goodhue and David Havili, as well as head coach Ian Foster and a host of his assistants.

Ireland's Mack Hansen is also unavailable having tested positive for the virus earlier this week.

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New Zealand: J Barrett; S Reece, R Ioane, Q Tupaea, L Fainga'anuku; B Barrett, Smith; Bower, Taylor, Tu'ungafasi, Retallick, Whitelock; S Barrett, Kane (capt), Savea.

Replacements: Taukei'aho, Tu'inukuafe, Ta'avao, Sowakula, Papalii, Christie, Mo'unga, Ennor.

Ireland: Keenan; Earls, Ringrose, Henshaw, Lowe; Sexton (capt), Gibson-Park; Porter, Sheehan, Furlong, Beirne, Ryan; O'Mahony, Van der Flier, Doris.

Replacements: Heffernan, Bealham, Healy, Treadwell, Conan, Murray, Carbery, Aki.

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Munster flanker O'Mahony will win his 85th cap with Jack Conan forced to settle for a place among the replacements as Caelan Doris moves to number eight.

O'Mahony's strength at the line-out is seen as key to Ireland's chances of coming out on top against one of the world's most formidable set-piece units.

"They could pick four teams in New Zealand and they'll be unbelievably hard to compete against," said head coach Andy Farrell.

"We're under no illusions what we're up against. Any type of performance that we've had before, where we've managed to get over the line, that won't do this weekend. I'm sure about that.

"Hopefully you put the package together and the opposition have a bit of an off-day at the same time."

Johnny Sexton captains the side from fly-half as one of 12 Leinster players to be named in the starting XV.

Test centurion Healy needed a medical cart to take him off the field during the second half of the Maori defeat with Farrell admitting the prop's leg injury "did not look too good".

Clearly however it was nowhere near as bad as feared with Healy's presence in the squad allaying concerns of a loose-head prop shortage.

Bundee Aki will wear number 23 having captained Ireland for the first time against the Maori.

For the All Blacks, Beauden Barrett starts at fly-half while brother Scott starts an international match at blindside flanker for the first time since their 2019 World Cup semi-final defeat by England.


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