New Zealand Ireland opt for experience against All Blacks

The 30-year-old Leinster and British Lions No.15 missed Ireland's summer tour to South Africa through injury.

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Ireland's full-back Rob Kearney throws the ball during a training session in Cardiff, south Wales, on October 14, 2015 play

Ireland's full-back Rob Kearney throws the ball during a training session in Cardiff, south Wales, on October 14, 2015

(AFP/File)
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Ireland coach Joe Schmidt recalled fullback Rob Kearney on Thursday in an experienced line-up to face world champions New Zealand at Soldier Field this weekend.

The 30-year-old Leinster and British Lions No.15 missed Ireland's summer tour to South Africa through injury, but has regained his place with Jared Payne moving back to centre alongside Robbie Henshaw.

"We've tried to go with a little bit of experience just because of the magnitude of the game and the quality of the opposition to be honest," Schmidt told reporters.

Andrew Trimble and Simon Zebo line up on the wings while Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray will resume their partnership at halfback.

In the pack Jordi Murphy joins C.J. Stander and Jamie Heaslip in the backrow while Donnacha Ryan won the battle to partner Devin Toner at lock.

The front row sees Jack McGrath, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong resume their union.

Ireland's bench however has some fresher faces on it, with Leinster's Joey Carbery and Garry Ringrose -- both 21 -- likely to make their debuts at some point.

"It's a great opportunity for them to learn," Schmidt said.

"I've no doubt the pace will be pretty sharp. Hopefully we won't be chasing shadows," added the New Zealander, acknowledging the Leinster duo faced a "baptism of fire."

"It's such a high level it's probably not ideal. It would have been nice to have them in a Test match that was slightly less daunting.

"But they've been refreshing. They haven't shown signs of being intimidated by the task. The excitement is overriding the nerves.

"Garry reads things well. He picks his moments well, he makes good decisions. Joey is very similar."

Ireland have never beaten New Zealand in more than a century of fixtures between the two nations, and run into an All Blacks side who have compiled a record 18 consecutive victories.

Prop McGrath meanwhile played down the significance of Ireland's most recent match against New Zealand in 2013, when they squandered a 19-0 lead before losing 22-24 in Dublin.

"That's forgotten about. It's a new year, a new challenge, we're playing the best team in the world," McGrath said.

"That's the challenge that faces us on Saturday."

Ireland (15-1)

Rob Kearney; Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Jordi Murphy, C.J. Stander; Devin Toner, Donnacha Ryan; Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best (capt), Jack McGrath

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Joey Carbery, Garry Ringrose.

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