New Zealand v Ireland: Bundee Aki in for series decider in Wellington

New Zealand v Ireland: Bundee Aki in for series decider in Wellington

Aki replaced Garry Ringrose after 30 minutes in Dunedin last weekend
Venue: Sky Stadium, Wellington Date: Saturday, 16 July Kick-off: 08:05 BST
Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website and app.

Bundee Aki replaces the injured Garry Ringrose in Ireland’s only change for their series decider against New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday.

Connacht’s Aki slots in beside Robbie Henshaw, who moves to outside centre.

Keith Earls comes onto the bench with the matchday 23 otherwise unchanged from Ireland’s historic win in Dunedin last weekend.

All Blacks boss Ian Foster has made four changes to his starting side, with Sam Whitelock returning from injury.

Concussion ruled the veteran lock out of the second Test, and he was sorely missed by New Zealand as Ireland enjoyed the better of the set-piece to level the series.

His return sees Dalton Papalii drop to the bench with Scott Barrett moving to the back row.

Will Jordan and David Havili make their first starts of the series having missed the opener due to Covid-19, with Jordan making a try-scoring return off the bench in Dunedin.

Wing Leicester Fainga’anuku drops out of the squad entirely as Nepo Laulala comes in at tight-head prop.

Ireland centre Ringrose was ruled out of the final game having sustained a head injury in a collision that saw prop Angus Ta’avao red carded last weekend.

Aki, who played 50 minutes in Dunedin, steps in having captained Ireland in their tour opener against the Maori All Blacks on 29 June.

Having turned 37 this week Johnny Sexton will equal Paul O’Connell’s tally of 108 international caps as he captains the side following a scintillating individual display in Dunedin.


New Zealand: J Barrett; Reece, R Ioane, Havili, Jordan; B Barrett, Smith; Bower, Taylor, Laulala, Retallick, Whitelock; S Barrett, Cane (capt), Savea.

Replacements: Coles, Ross, Tu’ungafasi, A Ioane, Papalii, Fakatava, Mo’unga, Tuivasa-Sheck.

Ireland: Keenan; Hansen, Henshaw, Aki, Lowe; Sexton (capt), Gibson-Park; Porter, Sheehan, Furlong, Beirne, Ryan, O’Mahony, Van der Flier, Doris.

Replacements: Herring, Healy, Bealham, Treadwell, Conan, Murray, Carbery, Earls.

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