Saturday 16 December 2017

Wallace replaces injured D'Arcy as Kidney weighs up his options

Former Ireland star Paddy Wallace
Former Ireland star Paddy Wallace

Hugh Farrelly in Queenstown

ULSTER centre Paddy Wallace joined up with the Irish squad in Queenstown today to replace the injured Gordon D’Arcy as coach Declan Kidney weighs up his options ahead of Saturday’s third Test in Hamilton.

Kidney names his team on Thursday and Wallace could slot straight into the No 12 jersey or Kidney may look at the option of bringing Keith Earls back into midfield, pending his full recovery from the shoulder injury which ruled him out of the second Test.

The Ireland coach must also bring in a back-row replacement for No 8 Jamie Heaslip who has been ruled out of the third Test with a fractured index finger with Peter O’Mahony and Chris Henry the likeliest options.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Piri Weepu says he is happy to help out Aaron Smith as much as he can despite losing his international place to the All Blacks new scrum-half sensation in this series.

Smith’s passing in his first two Tests have earned widespread praise and veteran No 9 Weepu accepts the situation for what it is.

“I guess I've just got to wait and see how things go at this stage and if I do get on the field I'll try and make the most of it,” said Weepu today.

“Nuggy (Smith) has been doing really well. He's only played two tests so far but he's obviously shown some pretty good talent and the coaches have shown a lot of faith in him for him to be here.

'”We always sit down and have a coffee together and chat over what we need to do as halfbacks during the week to prepare ourselves for the game.”

Coach Steve Hansen has given no indication as to likely changes for Saturday with doubts remaining over Kieran Read’s availability to play at No 8.

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