New All Blacks to face O'Gara and Co.
June 8, 2010
Connacht skipper John Muldoon is in at the deep end this weekend © Getty Images
All Blacks coach Graham Henry has named three new caps to face Ireland in New Plymouth on Saturday.
Highlanders fullback Israel Dagg, Blues centre Benson Stanley and Crusaders loose-head Ben Franks have all been given the nod to start while Victor Vito, Sam Whitelock and Aaron Cruden are primed for Test bows off the bench.
It will be s special day for Franks, with his brother Owen starting in the No.3 jersey. The duo will become the first brothers to represent New Zealand in the same side since Robin and Zinzan Brooke in 1997.
Ronan O'Gara has seen off the challenge of Jonathan Sexton and will start at fly-half for Ireland. The veteran Munster pivot will play his 99th Test for Ireland, having lost his place to Sexton in the second half of the Six Nations. The Leinster youngster has only recently returned from a broken jaw and was prevented from taking part in last week's loss to the Barbarians by an infection in his mouth close to where he had surgery.
O'Gara is partnered by Munster team-mate Tomas O'Leary, with Eoin Reddan beating Peter Stringer to a place on the bench. Connacht duo John Muldoon and Sean Cronin will play by far the biggest game in their young Test careers. Muldoon, the standout performer against the Baa Baas, starts in place of the injured Stephen Ferris at blindside while Cronin deputises for Jerry Flannery and Rory Best at hooker.
New Zealand: I Dagg (Highlanders); C Jane (Hurricanes), C Smith (Hurricanes), B Stanley (Blues), J Rokocoko (Blues); D Carter (Crusaders), J Cowan (Highlanders); B Franks (Crusaders), K Mealamu (Blues), O Franks (Crusaders), B Thorn (Crusaders), A Boric (Blues), J Kaino (Blues), R McCaw (Crusaders, capt), K Read (Crusaders).
Replacements: A de Malmanche (Chiefs), N Tialata (Hurricanes), S Whitelock (Crusaders), V Vito (Hurricanes), P Weepu (Hurricanes), A Cruden (Hurricanes), Z Guildford (Crusaders)
Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D'Arcy (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster); R O'Gara (Munster), T O'Leary (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), S Cronin (Connacht), J Hayes (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), M O'Driscoll (Munster), J Muldoon (Connacht), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: J Fogarty (Leinster), T Buckley (Munster), D Tuohy (Ulster), S Jennings (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster), G Murphy (Leicester)
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton