Ireland: Andrew Porter returns from injury to start in first Test against the All Blacks

David Skippers

Ireland have announced their team to play New Zealand in the opening fixture of their three-Test series at Eden Park on Saturday, with Andrew Porter returning to the starting XV.

Loosehead prop Porter missed Ireland’s last two matches in the Six Nations against England and Scotland with an ankle injury.

All-Leinster front-row

He is joined in the front-row by fellow Leinstermen Tadhg Furlong (tighthead) and Dan Sheehan (hooker). James Ryan and Tadhg Beirne pack down in the second-row while Caelan Doris starts at number eight alongside flankers Peter O’Mahony and Josh van der Flier in the back-row.

Veteran fly-half Johnny Sexton leads the side and forms a half-back partnership with Jamison Gibson-Park while Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose are the starting centres.

Hugo Keenan will start at full-back while Keith Earls and James Lowe are named on the wings.

Ireland have never beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand and their head coach Andy Farrell expects a strong response from the three-time world champions after they suffered a 29-20 defeat when these teams met in Dublin last year.

“We know what’s coming and what’s going to be good enough and what’s not going to be good enough,” he said.

“We expect them to be at their best. We obviously have a say in that, how we attack the game ourselves.

“I know they’ve one or two injuries and so have we but, at the same time, they could pick four teams in New Zealand and they would be unbelievably hard to compete against.

“We’re under no illusions of what we’re up against. Any type of performance that we’ve had before where we’ve managed to get over the line, that won’t do this weekend, I’m sure about that.”

Meanwhile, on the replacements bench, Ireland’s veteran front-row Cian Healy is a surprise inclusion after sustaining a lower limb injury during his side’s loss to the Maori All Blacks on Wednesday.

Farrell revealed that Healy’s injury is not as serious as initially feared.

“I think he had a bit more of a scare than anything else,” he said of Healy. “He recovered pretty quickly in the changing room after the game.

“He’s still a bit sore this morning but he’s obviously going through a few protocols now with the rehab but we’re going to give him until tomorrow, he’s made such improvement. We’re optimistic about that.”

Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Kieran Treadwell, Jack Conan, are the other forward replacements while Conor Murray, Joey Carbery and Bundee Aki are the backline cover.

Concern over James Hume

Farrell had less positive news on young centre James Hume, who was forced off the field with a groin injury in the second half against the Maori All Blacks.

“Obviously we’re only a few hours after the game so people do tend to wake up pretty sore but it’s not looking great for him,” he said of Hume.

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Finlay Bealham, 18 Cian Healy, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Bundee Aki

Date: Saturday, July 2
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:05 local (08:05 BST,07:05 GMT)
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Jordan Way (Australian)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

READ MORE: International: Maori All Blacks’ first half blitz clinches victory over Ireland


New Zealand v Ireland series preview

Planet Rugby previews the Test series between the All Blacks and Ireland in New Zealand.