Brian O’ Driscoll banks on debubants to help Ireland to first victory over All Blacks
CAPTAIN Brian O'Driscoll is hoping a side containing two debutants can become the first Ireland team to beat New Zealand.
Ireland have yet to taste success against the All Blacks in 24 attempts and will again be second favourites when they line up against the world champions at Eden Park on Saturday.
Coach Declan Kidney today named his team for the match, with uncapped pair Simon Zebo and Declan Fitzpatrick taking their places on the left wing and at tighthead prop respectively.
O'Driscoll, 33, has seen almost everything in his time with the national side but is well aware of the conspicuous gap on his CV.
"At some stage in the future, whether it is this year, next year or in 20 years' time, an Irish team is going to beat the All Blacks before the world implodes," he said.
"We just have to make sure to try and make it now rather than waiting for our kids, or our kids' kids to see it happen.
"I've managed to tick a lot of boxes along the way with the Irish side: beating the other southern hemisphere nations, obviously beating Australia (at Eden Park) last year. But this is one that has eluded us - this group of players, and Irish players in general. It speaks volumes for the enormity of the challenge in front of us.
"You are playing the world champions in the first game since they, rightly, won the crown so it is a huge challenge."
Elsewhere in the XV, Keith Earls will partner O'Driscoll in the centre and Fergus McFadden has been named on the right wing.
Dan Tuohy joins Donnacha Ryan in the second row and Peter O'Mahony comes in to the back row alongside Leinster duo Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip. Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan form the half-back axis.
Fitzpatrick's front-row partners are Rory Best and Cian Healy.
Having named the side, Kidney said: "When you are playing the world champions in their own back yard in their first game after the World Cup, you have to be on the top of your game. There's no secrets around any of that. But, we believe that if we are then we're well in with a shout."
Of Zebo's promotion to the starting team, he added: "Simon has been going well and he took his opportunity in the Barbarians match 10 days ago. He has been playing consistently, and well, on the left wing and I see that as an advantage."
Zebo was overjoyed to receive the call.
"To be playing the All Blacks and to be making my debut as well, it is something that I have dreamed about for a long time," said the Munster man.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has also named his starting side and he has also added some new faces.
Uncapped scrum-half Aaron Smith partners Dan Carter and there are also bows for lock Brodie Retallick and winger Julian Savea.
Victor Vito has been chosen to replace the injured flanker Jerome Kaino.
Richie McCaw captains a team that features Sonny Bill Williams and Conrad Smith at centre.
Speaking about the new caps, Hansen said: "We picked them in the series squad because they have all shown that they have special qualities. They now get the opportunity to show on the international stage."
Teams for first Test, New Zealand v Ireland, in Auckland on Saturday June 9 (kick-off 0835 BST)
Ireland: R Kearney; F McFadden, B O'Driscoll (captain), K Earls, S Zebo; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, D Fitzpatrick, D Tuohy, D Ryan, P O'Mahony, S O'Brien, J Heaslip.
Replacements: S Cronin, R Loughney, D O'Callaghan, K McLaughlin, E Reddan, R O'Gara, D Cave.
New Zealand: I Dagg; Z Guildford, C Smith, S Williams, J Savea; D Carter, A Smith; T Woodcock, A Hore, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, V Vito, R McCaw (captain), K Read.
Replacements: H Elliot, B Franks, A Williams, A Thomson, P Weepu, A Cruden, B Smith.