Sean O’Brien to start against All Blacks

Sean O’Brien will start at openside flanker for Ireland in Saturday’s Test against New Zealand in Dublin.

The Leinster forward played the full 80 minutes in last weekend’s 52-21 victory over Canada at the Aviva Stadium and he retains his place as Ireland bid to complete a famous double over the All Blacks.

The 29-year-old replaces the injured Jordi Murphy and is the only change from the starting XV from Soldier Field in Chicago where Joe Schmidt’s men triumphed 40-29 to claim their first victory over New Zealand in 111 years and end their 18-match winning streak.

O’Brien suffered a severe hamstring injury against France during the Six Nations and the Canada game was his first international appearance since then as Schmidt held him back from the action in the United States on November 5, a decision he did not “fully agree” with.

Josh van der Flier will cover back row from the bench, leaving no spot in the 23 for Munster flanker Peter O’Mahony, who is still working in his fitness after knee ligament surgery and was unable to train fully on Monday.

The influential Conor Murray has overcome a hamstring niggle to start at scrum-half, while fit-again lock Iain Henderson takes a seat on the bench with Leinster’s young centre Garry Ringrose also among the replacements.

Schmidt confirmed lock Ultan Dillane is out with a “sore knee” and Munster’s Keith Earls will also sit out the game with a dead leg.

Ireland: 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 (c), 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 5 Devin Toner, 6 CJ Stander, 7 Sean O’Brien, 8 Jamie Heaslip.

Replacemeets: 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.

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