Ireland call on two debutants
June 7, 2012
Simon Zebo will make his international debut © Getty Images
The uncapped duo have been drafted in by coach Declan Kidney for Saturday's match in Auckland, with Munster's Zebo named on the left wing and Fitzpatrick, of Ulster, in at tighthead prop to replace the injured Mike Ross. 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 Jonathan Sexton form the half-back axis.
"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," Kidney said. "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 said: "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."
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.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September