D’Arcy back for Ireland to face All Blacks
Ireland recalled veteran centre Gordon D’Arcy among four changes to their starting team as they attempt to level their three-match series against the All Blacks in the second Test on Saturday.
D’Arcy replaces the injured Keith Earles, renewing a 47-match Test centre partnership with captain Brian O’Driscoll in the Christchurch Test where the Irish must rebound from a 42-10 thrashing at Auckland’s Eden Park.
Andrew Trimble takes over on the left wing from Simon Zebo, who made his Test debut at Eden Park while Kevin McLaughlin replaces Peter O’Mahony at blindside flanker and tighthead prop Mike Ross returns from injury to replace Declan Fitzpatrick.
New Zealand made only one change to their starting lineup, promoting Adam Thomson at blindside flanker to replace the injured Victor Vito and calling up uncapped flanker Sam Cane on the reserves bench.
Ma’a Nonu had been expected to return to the team but Hansen retained the outstanding Sonny Bill Williams at inside centre in an unchanged backline.
The Test will be the first in Christchurch since the February 22, 2011 earthquake that left 185 people dead and devastated the South Island city.
It will be played at the newly-developed 18,000-seat stadium that replaces the regular Test venue in the city, AMI Stadium, which was severely damaged by the quake.
“It’s great that Test footy has returned to Christchurch and the players are looking forward to playing in front of a sell-out crowd,” Christchurch-based Hansen said.
“The team, especially those of us from Christchurch, know that people have still been doing it tough, so hopefully we can give them a performance on Saturday that puts a smile on their faces.”
Conrad Smith will partner Williams in midfield, playing his 57th Test. By winning 50 of his 56 Tests to date, Smith has the highest winning percentage of any player in the world with more than 50 Test appearances.
© AP 2013
New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Zac Guildford, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Julian Savea, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Adam Thomson, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Res: Hika Elliot, Ben Franks, Sam Cane, Ali Williams, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith.
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Gordon D’Arcy, Andrew Trimble, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, Kevin McLaughlin, Donnacha Ryan, Dan Touhy, Mike Ross, Rory Best, Cian Healy. Res: Sean Cronin, Declan Fitzpatrick, Donncha O’Callaghan, Peter O’Mahony, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O’Gara, Simon Zebo.
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