Ireland debuts for Simon Zebo and Declan Fitzpatrick in New Zealand

 

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has rung the changes for the first Test
against New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday, with debuts for Simon Zebo
and Declan Fitzpatrick.

The uncapped duo have been drafted in for Saturday's match in Auckland, with Munster's Zebo named on the left wing and Fitzpatrick, of Ulster, in at tighthead prop.

Elsewhere in the XV Keith Earls will partner captain Brian O'Driscoll in the centre and Fergus McFadden has been named on the right wing.

Dan Tuohy will partner Donnacha Ryan in the second row and Peter O'Mahony comes in at flanker alongside Leinster duo Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip. Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan form the half-back axis.

Mike Ross' hamstring injury has ruled him out of the matchday squad so Ulster prop Fitzpatrick comes in to make his debut. He will be joined in the front row by Rory Best and Cian Healy.

Kidney said: "When you are playing the world champions in their own back yard in their first game after the World Cup, you have to be on the top of your game. There's no secrets around any of that. But we believe that if we are then we're well in with a shout."

Of Zebo's promotion to the starting side, Kidney added: "Simon has been going well and he took his opportunity in the Barbarians match 10 days ago. He has been playing consistently, and well, on the left wing and I see that as an advantage."

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has also named new faces in his team, pairing uncapped scrum-half Aaron Smith with fly-half Dan Carter.

There are also Test bows for lock Brodie Retallick and winger Julian Savea, while Victor Vito has come in to replace the injured flanker Jerome Kaino.

Teams for first Test, New Zealand v Ireland, in Auckland on Saturday June 9 (kick-off 0835 BST)

Ireland: R Kearney; F McFadden, B O'Driscoll (captain), K Earls, S Zebo; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, D Fitzpatrick, D Tuohy, D Ryan, P O'Mahony, S O'Brien, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, R Loughney, D O'Callaghan, K McLaughlin, E Reddan, R O'Gara, D Cave.

New Zealand: I Dagg; Z Guildford, C Smith, S Williams, J Savea; D Carter, A Smith; T Woodcock, A Hore, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, V Vito, R McCaw (captain), K Read.

Replacements: H Elliot, B Franks, A Williams, A Thomson, P Weepu, A Cruden, B Smith.

PA

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