Lomu let loose to face Ireland

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The Independent Online
New Zealand have decided to unleash Jonah Lomu right from the start of their World Cup campaign. Lomu, 19st and 6ft 5in tall, has been preferred to Marc Ellis and Eric Rush on the wing for Saturday's Pool C match against Ireland in Johannesburg.

Lomu is the same weight as prop Craig Dowd, yet he demonstrated at the recent Hong Kong Sevens just how fast and powerful he is.

The All Black captain, Sean Fitzpatrick, who will win his 64th cap and a world record 62nd in succession, is not underestimating Ireland. "I have played against Ireland on a number of occasions and I have yet to have an easy match," he said.

"I remember in particular the game in 1992 when perhaps the Irish should have beaten us - and that was a week after they had lost by 60 points to Auckland. I'm sure they'll give us plenty of problems and we're regarding this as the most important game of the tournament. It's vital we start well."

A bruising training session left the Ireland full-back Conor O'Shea one of three players nursing minor knocks or strains after the two hour session - the second half of which contained contact work at full throttle. Prop Garret Haplin has a troublesome knee, but should be fit for Saturday, and flanker Eddie Halvey a slight calf strain.

The new Wales coach, Alex Evans, said that the Welsh need more than just their trade mark pride and passion if they want to succeed in the World Cup.

"We must get away from the idea of Welsh passion and start accepting that we have to play with skill rather than just pride and passion," he said. Their opening game is against Japan on Saturday.

NEW ZEALAND (v Ireland, Johannesburg, Saturday): G Osborne (North Harbour); J Wilson (Otago), F Bunce (North Harbour), W Little (North Harbour), J Lomu (Counties); A Mehrtens (Canterbury), G Bachop (Canterbury); C Dowd (Auckland), S Fitzpatrick (Auckland, capt), O Brown (Auckland), I Jones (North Harbour), B Larsen (North Harbour), J Joseph (Otago), M Brewer (Canterbury), J Kronfeld (Otago). Replacements: A Strachan (North Harbour), S Culhane (Southland), M Ellis (Otago), N Hewitt (Hawke's Bay), R Loe (Canterbury), K Schuler (North Harbour).

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