TOKYO (Reuters) - Ireland named Garry Ringrose in the midfield to replace the suspended Bundee Aki for their World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand at Tokyo Stadium on Saturday.
Aki was suspended for three weeks after he received a red card for a high tackle in Ireland’s final Pool A game against Samoa.
Robbie Henshaw, who played centre in the match against Samoa, has moved into the number 12 jersey with Ringrose coming in as centre.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said Aki’s suspension had made the midfield one of the easier decisions in a tough selection puzzle across the board.
“There were probably four or five reasonably tight selection decisions,” Schmidt told reporters on Thursday. “Obviously with Bundee missing out that clarified the midfield a little.
“On the wings, Andrew Conway has been very good as well as Jordan Lamour so the outside backs are also a conundrum ... but we have chosen the players who we think will best serve us in this fixture.”
Hooker Rory Best will again lead the side as the Irish seek to advance to their first semi-final at the World Cup, having failed to get past the quarters in their six previous appearances in the knockout stages.
Schmidt selected as close to his first-choice pack as possible, with seven of the starting forwards having dominated the All Blacks in their 16-9 victory in Dublin last November.
It was their first win at home against the world champions and second overall after they recorded their inaugural victory in Chicago in 2016.
Ireland have won two of their last three matches against the All Blacks but Schmidt said that even if they got the selections right they could still lose.
“The unfortunate thing about any 23 you select for the All Blacks is that they can play very well and still not get the result,” he added.
“That’s the quality the All Blacks have ... but you cannot go out against an All Blacks side and accept you’re second fiddle.
“You have to put your best foot forward and we hope this 23 will be committed to doing that.”
Team: 15-Rob Kearney, 14-Keith Earls, 13-Garry Ringrose, 12-Robbie Henshaw, 11-Jacob Stockdale, 10-Johnny Sexton, 9-Conor Murray, 8-CJ Stander, 7-Josh van der Flier, 6-Peter O’Mahony, 5-James Ryan, 4-Iain Henderson, 3-Tadgh Furlong, 2-Rory Best (captain), 1-Cian Healy
Replacements: 16-Nial Scannell, 17-Dave Kilcoyne, 18-Andrew Porter, 19-Tadhg Bierne, 20-Rhys Ruddock, 21-Luke McGrath, 22-Joey Carbery, 23-Jordan Larmour
Editing by Peter Rutherford