Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# Team news
O'Brien starts for Ireland as Schmidt names Henderson and Jackson on bench
Josh van der Flier has been edged out for the openside slot in Ireland’s XV.

JOE SCHMIDT HAS named Sean O’Brien at openside flanker in his Ireland team to face New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday [KO 5.30pm, RTÉ 2].

Sean O'Brien and Rory Best Dan Sheridan / INPHO Sean O'Brien with captain Rory Best. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Meanwhile, Ulster lock Iain Henderson has been included on the Ireland bench and is set for his first appearance of the November Tests after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Leinster flanker O’Brien missed the clash with the All Blacks two weekends ago as he continued his return to fitness with his province, but he started in the seven shirt for Ireland last weekend against Canada.

His performance in that fixture, as well as his Test rugby experience, has seen Schmidt include the Tullow man in his starting XV ahead of Josh van der Flier.

O’Brien is the only change from the side that beat the Kiwis for the first time ever – Jordi Murphy is missing after an ACL injury in Chicago – as the Ireland head coach retains faith in his history-makers.

In the front row, captain Rory Best is joined again by Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong, while Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner form the lock pairing. O’Brien is in the seven shirt, with Jamie Heaslip and CJ Stander returning at number eight and blindside, respectively.

Rob Kearney, Simon Zebo and Andrew Trimble make up the back three, Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw are in midfield, and Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray will direct play from the halfback positions.

On the bench, Paddy Jackson has replaced Joey Carbey as the back-up out-half, but Keith Earls and Peter O’Mahony are among those to miss out as Schmidt retains van der Flier and Garry Ringrose.

Henderson is included as second row cover, with Ultan Dillane having sat out Ireland’s training session at Carton House again today.

Exclusive Six
Nations Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella’s exclusive analysis of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign this spring

Become a Member

Ireland (v New Zealand):

15. Rob Kearney
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Jared Payne
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Simon Zebo
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Devin Toner
6. CJ Stander
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip


16. Sean Cronin
17. Cian Healy
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Iain Henderson
20. Josh van der Flier
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Paddy Jackson
23. Garry Ringrose

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

Video analysis: Ireland’s expansive ideas excite at start of World Cup year

Kaino: There’s a nervous edge knowing we let ourselves down in Chicago

Your Voice
Readers Comments