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Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Ireland pick O'Leary for NZ clash

Tomas O'Leary
Tomas O'Leary takes over from Eoin Reddan at scrum-half

Munster scrum-half Tomas O'Leary is a surprise selection for Ireland's clash with New Zealand on Saturday.

O'Leary replaces Wasps' Eoin Reddan in one of six changes made by coach Declan Kidney from the win over Canada.

Rory Best, John Hayes, Alan Quinlan and David Wallace return to the pack with Jerry Flannery, Tony Buckley, Stephen Ferris and Shane Jennings losing out.

Girvan Dempsey returns at full-back in place of Keith Earls while Paddy Wallace is named in the replacements.

Those left out of the match-day squad for the Croke Park encounter include Ulster centre Andrew Trimble and Leicester's Geordan Murphy.

The exciting Earls, like Ferris, impressed in the rout of Canada but finds himself usurped by experience in what is the ultimate challenge for the Irish who have never beaten the All Blacks in 21 Tests.


Kidney has remained faithful to Luke Fitzgerald who continues his partnership with skipper Brian O'Driscoll in midfield while Tommy Bowe and Rob Kearney start again on the wings.

O'Leary will be making his first Test start, his only coming as a replacement against Argentina last year.

He has been in commanding form for Munster this season, and was initially given his chance to upstage veteran Peter Stringer at the European champions when Kidney was in charge.

Fly-half Carter rates Ireland highly

Dempsey is recalled to the number 15 jersey to win his 82nd cap and is noted for his steadiness rather than speed and agility to turn a game.

Experienced campaigner Quinlan has also been playing with plenty of verve for Munster and gets the nod even though Ferris featured strongly at Thomond Park with a man-of-the-match performance.

David Wallace returns at open-side flanker in place of Jennings, who like Earls, Ferris, Flannery, Buckley and Reddan, will be on the bench.

Brian O'Driscoll talks about Ireland's task

Munster flanker Wallace, who will be winning his 49th cap, will be involved in a key tussle with Richie McCaw.

O'Driscoll will captain the Irish for the 50th time, on the occasion of his 87th cap.

Ireland coach Kidney said his team selection was tailored to the All Blacks with experience influencing his thinking.

"The changes weren't easy because the boys did well against Canada at the weekend," he said.

"We have selected a team with a skill-set that gives us the best possible chance on Saturday.

"Alan Quinlan and David Wallace have a wealth of experience at international and provincial level.

"Girvan has been playing very well and we saw him as the best option at full-back."

Tri-Nations champions New Zealand kicked off their European tour with a 32-6 victory over Scotland on Saturday.

Ireland: G Dempsey; T Bowe, B O'Driscoll, L Fitzgerald, R Kearney; R O'Gara. T O'Leary; M Horan, R Best, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, A Quinlan, D Wallace, J Heaslip. Replacements: J Flannery, T Buckley, S Ferris, S Jennings, E Reddan, P Wallace, K Earls.

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see also
NZ make 11 changes for Irish game
11 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 55-0 Canada
08 Nov 08 |  Irish
Scotland 6-32 New Zealand
08 Nov 08 |  Scottish

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