Following on from the massive game in Chicago last weekend, both Ireland and the All Blacks face opposition that, with respect, shouldn’t give them too much trouble.
Canada and Italy are unlikely to cause a major upset and this has given both coaches the opportunity to rest some players and give others a chance on the international stage. It can also be used to reintroduce injured players back into the squad – maybe from the bench.
Steve Hansen has made 12 changes from the team that went down in Chicago
Team: 15 Damian McKenzie; 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malaki Fekitoa, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Waisake Naholo; 19 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow; 1 Wyatt Crocket, 2 Codie Taylor, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 5 Scott Barrett, 6 Elliot Dixon, 7 Sam Cane, 8 Steven Luatua
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Rieko Ioane
Whilst changes were always going to be expected for the second game of the tour, this new line-up could be significant.
I would speculate that, assuming they go well, numbers 11 to 14 could be starting in Dublin. Ben Smith and TJ will be also in the backs against Ireland and Aaron Cruden may get the nod over Beauden Barrett if Hansen thinks goal kicking is going to be a key factor in a tight match.
Obviously Kieran Read, Brodie Retallick and Dan Coles will return next weekend and probably Jerome Kaino will get the number 6 shirt.
Joe Schmidt has yet to confirm his line-up but the Irish press seem to have been given the wink and are predicting a virtual complete change from those who triumphed at Soldier Field
Possible Ireland team (v Canada) – T O’Halloran; K Earls, G Ringrose, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, K Marmion; C Healy, S Cronin, F Bealham; U Dillane, B Holland; P O’Mahony, J van der Flier, S O’Brien.
Replacements: J Tracy, D Kilcoyne, J Ryan, I Henderson, D Leavy, L McGrath, J Carbery.
Whatever the final squad there will undoubtedly be a number of new caps.
I’m guessing that the only ones who are likely to push to stay in for the Dublin return against the All Blacks are Sean O’Brien and Peter O’Mahony – although Josh van der Flier may not agree!