Ireland: Keith Earls to lead much-changed side against Maori All Blacks in Wellington

David Skippers

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has rung the changes to his side that will play against the Maori All Blacks at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Tuesday, with veteran outside back Keith Earls named as captain.

Farrell and his charges are looking to square the two-match series against the New Zealand indigenous team after suffering a 32-17 defeat in the first encounter in Hamilton two weeks ago.

Earls, who started that game on the left wing, shifts to outside centre where he replaces the injured James Hume and is joined in midfield by Stuart McCloskey as part of 15 alterations to Ireland‘s starting line-up after Saturday’s victory over the All Blacks in Dunedin.

Michael Lowry gets the nod at full-back while Jimmy O’Brien starts on the left wing and Jordan Larmour the right with Ciaran Frawley and Craig Casey continuing as the starting half-backs.

Up front, Gavin Coombes starts at number eight and, like the first encounter against the Maori All Blacks, Cian Prendergast and Nick Timoney join him in the back-row as the starting flankers.

Joe McCarthy and Kieran Treadwell will pack down in the second-row while Jeremy Loughman and Tom O’Toole are the starting props and Niall Scannell gets the nod at hooker.

Rob Herring, Ed Byrne, Finlay Bealham, Ryan Baird and Jack Conan are the forward replacements while Conor Murray, Joey Carbery and Mack Hansen have been named as backline cover.

First game as captain

It will be the first time that Earls will captain his country and Farrell expects the 34-year-old to do well in his new role.

“His standing and his status in the group are of the highest order so that is an easy one. It gave me a lot of pleasure asking him to do it; he is a proud man and he is really looking forward to it,” he said.

“Keith played in the first game, and then he backed up, which is tough to do in a Test match, but he did it, he scored a try.

“For the likes of him, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, well everyone really, their attitudes have been top class and there has only been one thing on their mind and that is, ‘how can we help the team-mates, how can we make the fellas who are starting in advance of them better?’ There is no more deserving man to captain Ireland against the Maoris than Keith.”

Ireland: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Keith Earls (c), 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jimmy O’Brien, 10 Ciaran Frawley, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Jeremy Loughman
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Mack Hansen

Date: Tuesday, July 12
Venue: Sky Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:05 local (08:05 BST, 07:05 GMT)
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referees: Christophe Ridley (England), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: James Leckie (Australia)

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