NZ reunites Retallick & Whitelock, lose Kaino for Ireland

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Ireland's Ultan Dillane, center, looks to pass the ball against New Zealand during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago.

Ireland's Ultan Dillane, center, looks to pass the ball against New Zealand during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski)

DUBLIN (AP) — New Zealand regained two senior players but lost another to injury ahead of the rugby rematch against Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Locks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick will be reunited after absences through injury, but seasoned flanker Jerome Kaino was ruled out with a calf strain.

Whitelock and Retallick missed the test in Chicago two weeks ago in which the Irish won 40-29, their first win over the All Blacks in 111 years. Retallick returned to the bench for last weekend's clash with Italy but Whitelock has not played in four weeks because of an ankle injury.

Kaino started at lock in Chicago in the absence of Retallick, Whitelock and Luke Romano.

Liam Squire replaced Kaino on Thursday, and New Zealand will otherwise be at full strength.

Ireland made just one change to the team that started in Chicago, with Sean O'Brien coming in for the injured Jordi Murphy at openside flanker.

The All Blacks selectors chose Aaron Smith at scrumhalf despite him being outplayed by his Ireland opposite Conor Murray in the shock loss. TJ Perenara came off the bench to replace Smith and performed well, but the selectors elected to show faith in Smith.

Beauden Barrett will start at flyhalf despite his own dip in form. Anton Lienert-Brown will combine with Malakai Fekitoa in a midfield in which New Zealand has been depleted by injuries, while Israel Dagg retained his spot at right wing from the Italy game. Waisake Naholo started there in Chicago, and was in the reserves.

"As expected, there is huge excitement and anticipation within our squad ahead of this weekend's test," coach Steve Hansen said. "While there was obvious disappointment at the loss in Chicago, disappointment doesn't win test matches. It's about having great preparation and attitude and delivering on the day.

"(Ireland) will be full of confidence and committed to delivering on their home patch so we will have to take a massive step up to get the performance we are looking for."

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Ireland: Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, CJ Stander, Devin Toner, Donnacha Ryan, Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best (captain), Jack McGrath. Reserves: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Paddy Jackson, Garry Ringrose.

New Zealand: Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Malakai Fekitoa, Anton Lienert-Brown, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (captain), Sam Kane, Liam Squire, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Waisake Naholo.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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