Ireland change four for All Blacks clash

Guinness reunited former Ireland and New Zealand players Brian O’Driscoll and Tana Umaga ahead of Ireland’s Guinness Series crunch game against the All Blacks

Joe Schmidt issues strong defence of Bundee Aki’s right to play for Ireland

Joe Schmidt expects Ireland's game against New Zealand on Saturday, a clash between the world's highest ranked teams, to be a "spiky" affair following the controversial previous meeting between the sides two years ago.

Rob Kearney has recovered from a shoulder injury to slot in at full-back, making his first worldwide appearance since June's series win over Australia.

The All Blacks' matchday 23 features just the one change from the team which beat England last weekend.

Dan Leavy, who replaced the injured Sean O'Brien during the first half against Argentina, will don the number 7 jersey as he combines with Munster duo Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander in the back row.

Two-time Six Nations grand slam victor Kearney, one of the game's best defenders under a high ball, returns at fullback in place of 21-year-old Jordan Larmour, who drops back to the bench after struggling under a barrage of towering Argentine kicks last week.

Commenting on the team selection, Schmidt said: "There were some tough decisions".

The All Blacks coach concedes his team has not played at its best this season, though it has lost only once: to South Africa by two points during the Rugby Championship. These are the types of Test matches that gets everyone up - it's number one versus number two - and there's a real excitement that's building as we get closer to Saturday.

Hansen said the All Blacks have been trying to incorporate new tactics into their game and that means they haven't achieved their usual crispness or fluency.

"The depth of their experience, it is formidable and it would be a huge feather in these players' cap if they could topple them on Saturday". 14-9 with 15 minutes to go, that's a one-score game when Malakai Fekitoa scored the try that gave them the breach, I suppose, that was a little bit too far to cross. Along those lines, we've just got to be prepared for what they'll bring.

"We know that they'll come after us in some areas because they did last time".

"You've got to get the result at the end of the day and I suppose one of the negatives of climbing your way up the rankings is that I think expectations change and it's not enough to win".

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