Unsurprisingly Ireland have made limited changes from the team that won round one in Chicago a fortnight ago with Sean O’Brien, in for the injured Jordi Murphy, the only change to the starting XV for Saturday’s game at the Aviva Stadium. Kick off 5:30pm. 

From the Ulster perspective I’m pleased to report that Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson join the replacements on the bench with Ultan Dillane and Joey Carberry being the unfortunate pair to make way. 

New Zealand have made five changes to their starting XV and two on the bench. Israel Dagg leapfrogs straight into the starting line up with Waisake Naholo dropping to the bench. The centres are replaced by Malakai Fekitoa and Anton Lienert-Brown while the experienced second row pairing Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock replace Patrick Tuipulotu and Jerome Kaino who both drop out of the squad, Kaino being injured. 

The games have started with New Zealand calling themselves underdogs according to coach Steve Hansen: 

As expected, there is huge excitement and anticipation within our squad ahead of this weekend’s Test against the Irish. While there was obvious disappointment at the loss in Chicago, disappointment doesn’t win Test matches – it’s about having great preparation and attitude, and delivering on the day.

We know the challenge we face from Ireland will again be massive and we are going into the game as the underdogs. They’ll be full of confidence and committed to delivering on their home patch. So we will have to take a massive step up, to get the performance we are looking for. It is a challenge that this team needs right now and how we respond will tell us a lot about ourselves. As I said, we are very much looking forward to Saturday.

However the bookies are not to be fooled with Paddy Power putting Ireland at 6/1 and New Zealand at 1/10 and while I would say that New Zealand are the favorites, I think the odds underestimate how much Ireland rattled the All Blacks in Chicago. 

The big unknown is how much that win took out of Ireland. 

The FRU Predicts: As I predicted Ireland would lose the first game I’m happy enough to predict that they lose this one as well, though it will be close. Let’s hope I’m equally successful with this one!  🙂 

Rob Kearney 15 Ben Smith
Andrew Trimble 14 Israel Dagg
Jared Payne 13 Malakai Fekitoa
Robbie Henshaw 12 Anton Lienert-Brown
Simon Zebo 11 Julian Savea
Johnny Sexton 10 Beauden Barrett
Conor Murray 9 Aaron Smith
Jack McGrath 1 Joe Moody
Rory Best 2 Dane Coles
Tadhg Furlong 3 Owen Franks
Donnacha Ryan 4 Brodie Retallick
Devin Toner 5 Samuel Whitelock
CJ Stander 6 Liam Squire
Sean O’Brien 7 Sam Cane
Jamie Heaslip 8 Kieran Read
Sean Cronin 16 Codie Taylor
Cian Healy 17 Wyatt Crockett
Finlay Bealham 18 Charlie Faumuina
Iain Henderson 19 Scott Barrett
Josh van der Flier 20 Ardie Savea
Kieran Marmion 21 TJ Perenara
Paddy Jackson 22 Aaron Cruden
Garry Ringrose 23 Waisake Naholo