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Peter O’Mahony on Johnny Sexton selection: ‘I am far from a medical practitioner but he has been in good form’

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Jonathan Sexton during an Ireland rugby media conference at the Southern Cross Hotel in Dunedin, New Zealand

Jonathan Sexton during an Ireland rugby media conference at the Southern Cross Hotel in Dunedin, New Zealand

Jonathan Sexton during an Ireland rugby media conference at the Southern Cross Hotel in Dunedin, New Zealand

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell believes the players who underperformed in last weekend's first Test defeat deserve a chance to put things right on Saturday night in Dunedin.

Farrell has resisted mixing up his starting team, with Mack Hansen for Keith Earls the only change to the XV.

The Ireland boss is hoping for a big response from his side, as they look to rescue the Series and take it to a deciding third Test next week.

“There are all sorts of different considerations that go into selection,” Farrell explained.

“Sometimes players have probably not performed to the standards that they judge themselves on. To not give people an opportunity to correct that is sometimes missing an opportunity.

“So there is a little bit of that. Some people are unlucky not to start because they had a good impact off the bench.

“They understand that as well and to go along with all of that, the guys who go into Tuesday night have the opportunity to put their hand up for selection for the third Test. It is our first hit-out.

“We had a troubled week as everyone knows. This has been more of a straightforward week so a lot of the lads get an opportunity to go again.”

Johnny Sexton is included in the Ireland team, after the captain passed his HIA protocols earlier this week.

Peter O'Mahony took over as captain when Sexton was forced off at Eden Park, but the Munster skipper is relieved to have Sexton back on board.

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“There is no secret, Johnny is one of the best 10s in the world, one of the best players in the world, so you want to be dealing with a full deck,” O'Mahony said.

“We want to be playing with as full a bill of health as possible and there isn’t anyone you can say you can afford to have out with regard to having three games in the space of nine or ten days. He is hugely important to us, obviously our captain.

“I am far from a medical practitioner but he has been in good form.”

Saturday's game in Dunedin will be played under a roof, which should make for a high-tempo contest, as Farrell looks to draw on his previous experiences of visiting Forsyth Barr Stadium.

“We all know it suits the All Blacks,” he insisted.

“Every game I have watched in the stadium has been fantastic. When we have been there in the past, I have coached there a good few times now and it has always been quick.

“It is not the biggest of stadiums but the atmosphere is electric in there because of the roof etc. I expect more of what we have seen in Super Rugby and when the All Blacks have played there in the past against the Lions or any international side. The ball will be quick I am sure.

"You talk about the fast track but you put (Scott) Barrett into the second row and it becomes a little bit faster. They could pick four sides and they could all compete against one another.”

Farrell wants to see his side cut out the sloppy errors that gave the All Blacks easy access into the game last time out, but he believes having had a solid training week under their belts, they are in a good position to do so.

“It is pretty important,” he added.

“To be honest the lads are in a good place now, the Thursday before a test match, you would expect them to be but even earlier in the week, there is a bit of doubt that creeps in when you don’t know the answers – but they do know the answers.

“They know the access they gave the All Blacks and they understand that you cannot do that because they know first hand that they will be behind your own posts. There are a few things to fix like there is every week.”


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