Zebo to make Ireland debut against All Blacks

Ireland have named their team to face the All Blacks in Auckland with three new caps including Munster winger Simon Zebo as they look for their first victory over the All Blacks in 107 years.

Wing Simon Zebo and prop Declan Fitzpatrick were called up for Saturday’s match, which sees captain Brian O’Driscoll return after missing all of this years Six Nations tournament because of injury.

Ireland have played the All Blacks 24 times since their first match in 1905 but have yet to win a match. The closest Ireland have come to beating the All Blacks was a draw in 1973.

This time Zebo, the youngest member of the squad at 22, forms part of a potent back three with Rob Kearney at fullback and Fergus McFadden on the right wing.

O’Driscoll has a new partner in the centres with Keith Earls outside Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray.

Fitzpatrick earned his start in the front row with Cian Healy and Rory Best after Mike Ross failed to recover sufficiently from the hamstring strain that has bothered him over the last two weeks.

Dan Touhy and Donnacha Ryan are paired in the middle row with Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip forming the loose trio.

Kearney, the European player of the year and a member of the Heineken Cup-winning Leinster side, said there was no lack of motivation nor hint of fatigue among the Ireland players who have had little rest over the past year.

“You’re representing your country against the All Blacks in their back yard. If you can’t get up for that, you’re in the wrong game,” he said.

Ireland (15-1)

Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Brian O’Driscoll (captain), Keith Earls, Simon Zebo; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony; Donnacha Ryan, Dan Touhy; Declan Fitzpatrick, Rory Best, Cian Healy.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Ronan Loughney, Donncha O’Callaghan, Kevin McLaughlin, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O’Gara, Darren Cave.

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