Sport Rugby

Sunday 23 July 2017

Irish snub NZ game plan

Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Ireland have rejected New Zealand's request to play two midweek games on their tour there in June which includes three Tests.

The NZ union had hoped Ireland would play midweek games against the Maori -- who beat Ireland in Rotorua on the 2010 tour -- and a Super 15 franchise, in addition to facing the All Blacks on three straight Saturdays.

"It's for logistical as well as playing reasons," an IRFU spokesman said last week. "We would have had to move around to play the midweek games and we want to focus on the Test series."

Ireland have never played three Tests in New Zealand -- or any other single country -- before and the New Zealanders had hoped they would agree to go all out with top-of-the-range midweek games rather than second division provinces. Super Rugby will be suspended during the June window so it would have been perfect for the Kiwis to give some of those players international opposition.

"It wasn't so much about the money -- we wouldn't have made much out of it anyway," a New Zealand source said last week. "It just would have fitted in nicely for us and added to the tour. But we absolutely understand why Ireland don't want to go ahead with it."

Meanwhile Paul McNaughton's replacement as Ireland manager is expected to be named in the next fortnight.

It is understood four candidates were interviewed last week by an interview panel comprised of chief executive Philip Browne, management committee chairman Finbarr Crowley, and chairman of the representative games committee Martin O'Sullivan. Declan Kidney will have an input in selecting the new manager.

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