Farrell sees 'massive potential' for Irish to flourish on New Zealand tour

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Andy Farrell on Tuesday included five uncapped players in an extended 40-man squad for the coming tour of New Zealand which, given possible changes to the world rugby calendar, could be the last of its kind for Ireland.

The 47-year-old head coach said the three-Test tours like the one to New Zealand were essential for finding out about players and how they coped with being abroad for long stints.

But it has been widely touted that there will be an overhaul of the international calendar in the coming years.

"I am yet to experience what is coming down the line," he said.

"I have grown up on three-Test tours and I love it.

"With three games you can be one down and see the pressure building for the second game.

"Those tours are not just about performance but also the ability to move around the country and see different places and get a feel for what it is like abroad.

"If you are bouncing from one country to the next you stay in your bubble and all that goes out the window."

Leinster trio Ciaran Frawley, Joe McCarthy, Jimmy O'Brien along with Munster prop Jeremy Loughman and Connacht lock/back rower Cian Prendergast are the five uncapped players in a side, captained by Johnny Sexton, that is making its first tour since the 2018 series win over Australia.

"A number of players selected in the squad have massive potential to flourish under extreme pressure," said Farrell of the new faces.

"This tour is brilliant for this and this is what touring is all about you get to find out about players, how they live away from home and are they good at fitting into the squad.

"We also have some players with 20 caps who have yet to tour due to Covid.

"Walking around Wellington and Dunedin is different to Dublin with people winding their window down and telling you how good you are."

Ireland will play three Tests against New Zealand in Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington as well as two fixtures against the Maori All Blacks.

Sexton is one of five players, along with Cian Healy, Peter O'Mahony, Conor Murray and Keith Earls, who featured in Ireland's last tour to New Zealand in 2012.

Robert Baloucoune, Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell and Ronan Kelleher were ruled out of the tour through injury.

Ireland won the Triple Crown in this year's Six Nations, finishing second behind Grand Slam winners France.

The Irish have won three of their last five encounters with the All Blacks but have never beaten them in New Zealand.

Farrell dismissed suggestions that Ireland  risked being out-muscled by the All Blacks just as Leinster were in their Champions Cup final against La Rochelle.

"A lot gets said about Ireland, 'are they playing like Munster and Leinster?'," said Farrell.

"Well we are our own team and we play our own way.

"We have come up against big teams and been their match.

"It is not about physicality, it is how you front up how you get across the gain line and be aggressive.

"I think we have done well of late in that scenario."

Squad

Backs: Bundee Aki (Connacht), Harry Byrne (Leinster), Joey Carbery (Munster), Craig Casey (Munster), Keith Earls (Munster),  Ciaran Frawley (Leinster), Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster), Mack Hansen (Connacht), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), James Hume (Ulster), Hugo Keenan (Leinster), Jordan Larmour (Leinster), James Lowe (Leinster), Michael Lowry (Ulster), Conor Murray (Munster), Jimmy O'Brien (Leinster), Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Johnny Sexton (Leinster/capt)

Forwards: Ryan Baird (Leinster), Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Tadhg Beirne (Munster), Jack Conan (Leinster), Gavin Coombes (Munster), Caelan Doris (Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Dave Heffernan (Connacht), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Rob Herring (Ulster), Jeremy Loughman (Munster), Joe McCarthy (Leinster), Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Tom O'Toole (Ulster), Andrew Porter (Leinster), Cian Prendergast (Connacht), James Ryan (Leinster), Dan Sheehan (Leinster), Nick Timoney (Ulster), Kieran Treadwell (Ulster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster),

Fixtures

June 29 v Maori All Blacks, Hamilton

July 2 v New Zealand (1st Test), Auckland

July 9 v New Zealand (2nd Test), Dunedin

July 12 v Maori All Blacks, Wellington

July 16 v New Zealand (3rd Test), Wellington

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