The fledgling Irish team face the ‘biggest game of lives’ against the Maori All Blacks

Andy Farrell says his experimental team from Ireland faces the “biggest game of their lives” after selecting five no-limits players to take on the Maori All Blacks.

Leinster’s Ciaran Frawley will start in midfield, with provincial teammate Jimmy O’Brien at the side of a team captained by New Zealand center Bundee Aki.

Munster support Jeremy Loughman, Leinster padlock Joe McCarthy and Connacht flanker Cian Prendergast are the other international rookies included.

Wednesday’s match in Hamilton marks the start of Ireland’s summer tour, with the first of three tests against New Zealand on Saturday in Auckland.

The Irish will also play for the second time against the Maori team on July 12 in Wellington.

Speaking about the significance of the tour’s opening, Coach Farrell said: “It’s huge. It’s all for these players who are taking the field on Wednesday, it’s the biggest game of their lives. That is.

“I know there’s a three-game series coming up, but these two Maori games for us and what we’re trying to build on and how we’re trying to put people under pressure and see how they do, that’s just as important. .

  • v Maori All Blacks (June 29, Hamilton)

  • v New Zealand (2 July, Auckland)

  • v New Zealand (9 July, Dunedin)

  • v Maori All Blacks (July 12, Wellington)

  • v New Zealand (16 July, Wellington)

“If I can put it that way, I think it really says it all.”

Farrell’s plans for the All Blacks have already been hit due to Ulster blocking Iain Henderson being dropped from the entire series with a knee problem sustained in training.

The injury also deprived him of prostitute Rob Herring for the first two matches of the tour, while winger Mack Hansen is currently unavailable after contracting Covid-19.

“We have one case and we might have a few more by the end of the week, we don’t know,” Farrell said.

“That’s the way of the world, isn’t it? The tour motto is definitely adaptable.”

New Zealand’s plans have been most severely affected by the coronavirus.

Coach Ian Foster and his assistants John Plumtree and Scott McLeod were forced into isolation after testing positive, along with centers David Havili and Jack Goodhue.

Former Ireland manager Joe Schmidt has been called on to help prepare the All Blacks for the weekend’s sold-out showdown at Eden Park, with the interruption potentially denying Farrell a planned recovery with his predecessor.

Andy Farrell, left, previously worked with former Ireland manager Joe Schmidt (Brian Lawless/PA)

“I’m not sure it’s a direct confrontation – I’m sure Fozzy (Foster) will be somewhere,” Farrell said of facing Schmidt.

“Joe is there helping out being an extra pair of hands and I’m sure he’s fitting into the system.

“I was supposed to meet him for coffee on Thursday – I don’t know if that’s out of the question right now.

“What can he bring? He’s entering a system he probably doesn’t know about either. It’s not his system.

Bundee Aki, left, will captain Ireland

Bundee Aki, left, will captain Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

“I’m sure he’s just bringing his individual experience and giving advice to the coaches and that’s pretty deep so I’m sure everyone will try to learn something from him.”

Kiwi native Aki is one of only three players to have over six caps in Ireland’s first starting XV, alongside Jordan Larmour (30) and Keith Earls (96).

The Larmour and Earls Wings will line up on either side of newcomer O’Brien, while Aki will team up with James Hume in midfield and Frawley will form a quarterback partnership with Craig Casey.

Hooker Dave Heffernan, who played six Test matches, is the most experienced international in a forwards pack with just 17 caps combined.

He will be joined in the front row by loosehead Loughman and tighthead Tom O’Toole, with McCarthy partnered with Kieran Treadwell in blocking positions, and Gavin Coombes in the center of the back row between blindside Prendergast and openside Nick Timoney.

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