10 Leinster players in Ireland squad to play New Zealand

 

Declan Kidney has selected 10 Leinster players in his Ireland team to face New Zealand in Christchurch on Saturday.

Kevin McLaughlin has been brought in at blindside flanker to replicate the back row that started in the province's Heineken Cup final win over Ulster in May.

Props Mike Ross and Cian Healy have passed fitness tests and join Rory Best in the front row while Fergus McFadden, scorer of Ireland's solitary try last week, retains his spot on the right wing.

Simon Zebo, who looked lively in the first Test, drops to defence as Ulster winger Andrew Trimble returns to the side.

Captain Brian O'Driscoll resumes his midfield partnership Gordon D'Arcy, who comes in for the injured Keith Earls.

Rob Kearney starts at full-back while Kidney has resisted the temptation to pair Leinster half-backs Jonathan Sexton, who starts, and Eoin Reddan. Conor Murray retains the number nine jersey.

The coach admitted that Eoin Reddan was unfortunate to miss out on elevation to the starting scrum-half role. He added that the player's provincial allegiances did not come into his team decisions.

Dan Tuohy and Donnacha Ryan resume their second row partnership, with Kidney emphasising Ulster man's proficiency at the line-out as the primary reason why Donncha O'Callaghan remains on the replacement's bench.

McLaughlin has come back well from an ankle injury earlier in the year and his coach at Leinster, Joe Schmidt, has described him as a "massive player" for the province.

The Dubliner stepped up for his side in the final victory over Ulster and did a lot of grunt work at the breakdown, which allowed Sean O'Brien to make damaging up-field breaks.

Kidney said: "It was a close call between Kevin and Peter O'Mahony. It is about freshening it up a bit but the fact that Kevin will be part of a back row unit [he has been in] many times before helps."

He added: "Usually a back row will plunder well if the front row are doing well ahead of them."

Ireland team for the second Test against New Zealand on Saturday: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Brian O'Driscoll (captain), Gordon D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Dan Tuohy, Donnacha Ryan, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Declan Fitzpatrick, Donncha O'Callaghan, Peter O'Mahony, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O'Gara, Simon Zebo.

PA

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