Thursday, June 07, 2012

Ireland name two new caps to face All Blacks DAVID LONG 07/06/2012

Ireland coach Declan Kidney concedes that the timing to play the All Blacks couldn't be any tougher.
After naming a team for Saturday's test at Eden Park that contains new caps Simon Zebo on the wing and tighthead prop Declan Fitzpatrick, Kidney admitted that you'd be hard to find a tougher task than the one his side are up against over the next three weeks.
"When you're playing the world champions in their back yard in their first game after the World Cup you have to be at the top of your game," Kidney said.
"There are no secrets around any of that, but we believe if we do that we'll be well in with a shout."
Of the new caps, the 22-year old Zebo is the most exciting. He has just completed a break though season for Munster with the highlight being the hat-trick he scored against Northampton in the Heineken Cup and he should be a real handful for Zac Guildford to deal with on Saturday night.
Zebo also scored a try in the 30-28 defeat to the Barbarians last week in England.
"Simon has been going well," said Kidney.
"He took his opportunity in the Barbarians match and he's been playing consistently on the left wing and we see that as an advantage."
Kidney admitted he only knew a limited amount about the All Blacks' three new caps, Brodie Retallick, Aaron Smith and Julian Savea, but would spend time before Saturday's test schooling up on them.
"We've done a bit of homework on them and they are quality players. But to be honest we just set up at the start of the week," Kidney said.
"We had our first full session on Monday and we've been giving 99 per cent of it to ourselves.
"Now that their side has been named, over the course of the next day and a half we'll take a good look at them in more detail, but no bad player has ever played for New Zealand.
"We know there is going to be quality right throughout, we just have to know the skill set of the person that's coming in and see how we can offset it."
For Saturday's test Kidney has included a new centre partnership of Keith Earls and returning captain Brian O'Driscoll, who missed all of the Six Nations Championship due to injury.
Fergus McFadden starts on the right wing in a back three that includes Zebo and Rob Kearney at full back.
He has also gone with Jonathan Sexton at first-five, choosing to start the veteran Ronan O'Gara from the bench.
Fitzpatrick gets his start at tighthead prop after Mike Ross failed to recover sufficiently from the hamstring strain that has been bothering him over the last two weeks.
Fitzpatrick will start alongside loosehead Cian Healy and hooker Rory Best, who will be winning his 60th cap.
Lock Dan Touhy will make his first start for Ireland after making his debut against the All Blacks as a replacement in 2010 and will partner Donnacha Ryan. Behind them, Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip are all named to start in the back row.
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Keith Earls, Simon Zebo, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, Peter Mahony, Donnacha Ryan, Dan Touhy, Declan Fitzpatrick, Rory Best, Cian Healy. Reserves: Sean Cronin, Ronan Loughney, Donncha O'Callaghan, Kevin McLaughlin, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O'Gara, Darren Cave.

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