Sexton to lead Ireland against All Blacks
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has named an extended 40-player squad for the five-match tour of New Zealand.
Jonathan Sexton will captain the squad in what will be Ireland’s first tour since their memorable 2018 series win over Australia.
Farrell’s men will play three Test matches against New Zealand in Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington, as well as two fixtures against the Māori All Blacks – in Hamilton ahead of the first Test, and in Wellington following the second Test.
Ireland have not toured New Zealand since 2012 and have never recorded a victory over the All Blacks in Aotearoa.
Five players in the current squad toured New Zealand in 2012 – Cian Healy, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Sexton and Keith Earls – while Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, O’Mahony, Murray, Sexton and Robbie Henshaw were part of the British & Irish Lions squad that toured New Zealand in 2017.
There are five uncapped players included in Ireland’s tour squad – the Leinster trio of Ciaran Frawley, Joe McCarthy and Jimmy O’Brien, Munster prop Jeremy Loughman and Connacht flanker Cian Prendergast.
There are a further 12 players included who have won less than 10 caps for Ireland – Harry Byrne, Craig Casey, Gavin Coombes, Mack Hansen, James Hume, Michael Lowry, Ryan Baird, Dave Heffernan, Tom O’Toole, Dan Sheehan, Nick Timoney and Kieran Treadwell.
Robert Baloucoune, Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell and Ronan Kelleher have been ruled out of the tour through injury.
Ireland head coach Farrell commented:”This is the start of our World Cup campaign and it is going to be a fantastic challenge for our group facing five massive tests across the three weeks.
“Due to Covid we haven’t had an opportunity to tour, and touring plays a massive role in teams gelling together and building cohesion on and off the field.
“This group could also be the last to play a Test series in New Zealand which makes it even more special.
“We will learn so much about the players and the group as a whole as we have to front up for five incredibly tough fixtures, far from the comforts of home and in grounds where the home support will greatly outnumber travelling Irish fans.”
Connacht senior coach Peter Wilkins will join the national coaching group for the duration of the tour to assist in team preparation.
Mick Kearney has been reappointed as team manager following Gerard Carmody’s promotion to the IRFU Director of Operations role.
Kearney previously held the position between 2012 and 2016 and will fulfil the role through to the end of the Rugby World Cup in France next year.
Geraldine Armstrong will lead team operations for the tour to New Zealand, while Carmody will continue to support team operations and planning for Rugby World Cup 2023.
Backs: Bundee Aki, Harry Byrne, Joey Carbery, Craig Casey, Keith Earls, Ciaran Frawley, Jamison Gibson Park, Mack Hansen, Robbie Henshaw, James Hume, Hugo Keenan, Jordan Larmour, James Lowe, Michael Lowry, Conor Murray, Jimmy O’Brien, Garry Ringrose, Johnny Sexton (captain).
Forwards: Ryan Baird, Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Gavin Coombes, Caelan Doris, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Dave Heffermon, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Ronan Kelleher, Jermey Loughman, Joe McCarthy, Peter O’Mahony, Tom O’Toole, Andrew Porter, Cian Predergast, James Ryan, Dan Sheehan, Nick Timoney, Kieran Treadwell, Josh van der Flier.