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NZ-born Aki to lead Ireland against Maori All Blacks

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: New Zealand-born Bundee Aki was named on Tuesday to captain Ireland in their opening tour match against the Maori All Blacks.

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Wednesday’s match is being played in Hamilton, where Aki won a Super Rugby title with the Chiefs in 2013 before heading off to Ireland and winning a Pro12 championship with Connacht.

Against the Maori, Aki will have Craig Casey and Ciaran Frawley in the halves with Frawley one of five uncapped players in the starting XV.

James Hume joins Aki in the centres with Jordan Larmour, Keith Earls and Jimmy O’Brien, another debutant, forming the back three.

The front row comprises Jeremy Loughman, getting his first start for Ireland, Dave Heffernan and Tom Toole, with Kieran Treadwell and the uncapped Joe McCarthy at lock while the fifth debutant Cian Prendergast forms the loose trio with Nick Timoney and Gavin Coombes.

Niall Scannell, who only arrived in New Zealand on Tuesday as cover for the injured Rob Herring, has been named on the bench.

Ireland: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 James Hume, 12 Bundee Aki (captain), 11 Keith Earls, 10 Ciaran Frawley, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Joe McCarthy, 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Jeremy Loughman
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Michael Lowry.

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Date: Wednesday, June 29
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.05 (08.05 UK & Ireland time; 07.05 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Jordan Way Graham Cooper
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen

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