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Friday 15 December 2017

Wallace vows to help Irish go 'a step further'

ULSTER'S Paddy Wallace has been slotted straight into the Ireland team to play New Zealand at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday (KO 8.35, Live Sky Sports 1).

"Watching the guys come so close in the second Test, I think everybody now has a taste for it. We know we can cause them trouble and hopefully we'll go that one step further this week," said Wallace.

"Sitting on a beach in Portugal four days ago, I certainly never thought I'd be playing in the third Test. I'm fairly shocked and surprised, to be honest, but delighted at the same time."

The omission of the injured Gordon D'Arcy opened up a number of options to coach Declan Kidney and he has chosen the player with the greatest experience in the position.

This means captain Brian O'Driscoll stays in the outside centre channel with the recovered Keith Earls preferred to Andrew Trimble on the left wing. In the back row, Kidney has gone for Peter O'Mahony at number eight in place of Jamie Heaslip (fractured finger) because he has played there more regularly this season than Sean O'Brien, who has been outstanding on the openside in the first two tests.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has made half-a-dozen changes to his side for the third Test. His hand has been forced, to some extent, by injuries to out-half Dan Carter (hamstring) and number eight Kieran Read (concussion).

"Right from the word go, we felt that if this series had been wrapped up by Christchurch then we would look to make some strategic changes," said Hansen.

The removal of six players from the All Blacks' perceived first team will provide Ireland with extra encouragement to take their first win over the home side at the 27th time of asking.

"We got a massive challenge last week from the Irish and we've got to step up to that challenge this week. Ireland have given us a good tap on the chin and said, 'you better front up or we'll take that record off you'."

Aaron Cruden will start at ten and captain Richie McCaw will wear the number eight jersey for the first time in his 105-test career.

Sam Cane, another natural openside, enters the back row for his first start on his second appearance and Liam Messam gets the coach's vote ahead of Adam Thompson on the blindside.

Lock Luke Romano will make his debut in place of Brodie Retallick and wings Hosea Gear and Ben Smith will step in for Zac Guildford and Julian Savea.

New Zealand: I Dagg; B Smith, C Smith, S-B Williams, H Gear; A Cruden, A Smith; T Woodcock, A Hore, O Franks, L Romano, S Whitelock, L Messam, S Cane, R McCaw (capt).

Ireland: R Kearney; F McFadden, B O'Driscoll (capt), P Wallace, K Earls; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross, D Tuohy, D Ryan, K McLaughlin, S O'Brien, P O'Mahony.

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