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Sexton, O’Driscoll and Kearney named in Ireland team to face New Zealand

The trio were injury doubts this week but all took part in training in Maynooth this morning.

Ireland fans will beathe easier now that Sexton, O'Driscoll (pictured) and Kearney have been named to start.
Ireland fans will beathe easier now that Sexton, O'Driscoll (pictured) and Kearney have been named to start.

IRELAND COACH JOE SCHMIDT has named fitness doubts Rob Kearney, Brian O’Driscoll and Jonathan Sexton to start against New Zealand.

The pair were both injured in Ireland’s 32-15 loss to Australia last weekend but proved their fitness to the coaching staff this morning. O’Driscoll complained of a tight calf earlier this week but has passed muster and will face off against his deadliest foe for the final time.

Out-half Jonathan Sexton also took part in training this morning at Carton House and will start ahead of Ulster’s Paddy Jackson. Conor Murray returns at scrum-half to a team that will be captained by his Munster teammate Paul O’Connell. Devin Toner retains his place in the second-row.

Despite calls from former All Blacks and Ireland internationals, the make-up of the Irish back row is unchanged. Peter O’Mahony is at blindside while Sean O’Brien continues at openside and Jamie Heaslip is No.8. The front row is also unchanged from the loss to the Wallabies.

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Sexton in training with Ireland this morning. INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The fate of dropped Eoin Reddan’s was revealed earlier today as he was named in the Leinster team for their game against Treviso.

Schmidt sprung a minor surprise this afternoon by naming Leinster’s Luke Fitzgerald on the bench for this weekend’s clash. Fitzgerald, who has featured primarily as a winger with Leinster this season, will cover the centre, wing and fullback. Robbie Henshaw and Paddy Jackson miss out on selection but are both on injury stand-by.

Ireland will seek to end their 105-year winless streak against the All Blacks this Sunday at Lansdowne Road. Ireland have drawn one match and lost 27.

Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O’Connell (c); P O’Mahony, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, D Fitzpatrick, M McCarthy, K McLaughlin, I Boss, I Madigan, L Fitzgerald.

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