All Blacks, Ireland make minimal changes for second test

·3-min read

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Scott Barrett’s brief turn as a blindside flanker is over and he will return to lock in the All Blacks team that will face Ireland in Saturday’s second test at Dunedin.

Barrett’s positional shift again is partly necessitated by injury. Veteran lock Sam Whitelock has been diagnosed with a delayed onset concussion and Barrett takes his place in the second row where he will partner Brodie Retallick.

Barrett was moved from lock to flanker for the first test in the absence of incumbent Akira Ioane who was injured. Blues flanker Dalton Papalii has been elevated from the bench to start on the blindside on Saturday in the only personnel change to the team which won the first test 42-19 last weekend.

Head coach Ian Foster has named an unchanged backline, resisting the temptation to recall center David Havili and winger Will Jordan who both missed the first test after contracting COVID-19. Jordan is named on the bench but Havili has missed out on the match-day 23.

Foster has named two uncapped players on the bench, prop Aidan Ross and scrumhalf Folau Fakatava. Highlanders scrumhalf Fakatava now is in line to make his test debut at his home stadium.

Patrick Tuipulotu also is named on the bench to address the All Blacks’ depleted second row stocks. With Whitelock out, the All Blacks also have lost Tupou Vaa’i to COVID-19. Tuipulotu, who has played 41 matches for the All Blacks, recently returned to New Zealand after spending six months in Japan.

While the All Blacks won the first test convincingly, they were under pressure and their defense was tested by Ireland in the first 20 minutes. A try against the run of play by fullback Jordie Barrett settled the All Blacks who scored three more first half tries to take control as Ireland lost its influential captain Johnny Sexton.

“While I was delighted at how we performed and the leadership shown in the first test match, we will need to really lift and improve in some key areas,” Foster said. “We know the Irish will throw everything at us this week to keep the series alive.

“We’ve again had challenges this week but we feel this team has laid a foundation to build on and is desperate to improve against a very determined Irish side.”

As expected, Ireland captain Johnny Sexton was passed fit and will start the second test in the No. 10 jersey. Sexton appeared to sustain a head injury and didn’t return after leaving the field in the first test. But his injury was considered not serious enough to require him to stand down under World Rugby concussion protocols.

Ireland has made one backline change for the second test, naming Mack Hansen on the right wing in place of first test try-scorer Keith Earls. The Ireland forward pack is unchanged.

There is one change on the bench where hooker Rob Herring has been named ahead of Dave Heffernan.

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New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Rieko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (captain), Dalton Papalii, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Ofa Tuungafasi, Codie Barrett, George Bower: Reserves. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross, Angus Ta’avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Pita Gus Sowakula, Folau Fakatava, Richie Mo’unga, Will Jordan.

Ireland: Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton (captain), Jamison Gibson-Park; Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Peter O’Mahony, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Tadhg Furlong, Dan Sheehan, Andrew Porter. Reserves: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Kieran Treadwell, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Joey Carberry, Bundee Aki.

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