Hansen returns to starting line-up for Ireland’s second Test

Mack Hansen returns to Ireland’s starting line-up as Andy Farrell makes one change ahead of their second Test against New Zealand this Saturday.

The Connacht winger missed the opening game after testing positive for coronavirus, but is now set to replace Keith Earls in the second game at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium. Earls scored Ireland’s opening try in their 42-19 loss to the All Blacks last week but drops out of the squad for the Saturday’s rematch.

The Australian-born Hansen’s name has been met with plenty of excitement following an impressive debut Six Nations at the start of the year, including a fantastic try against champions France. Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Ireland’s attack coach Mike Catt pointed out that Hansen could be a difference maker.

“He’s got a real understanding of the game, a really good rugby brain. He trained very well today so it’s nice to see him back because it is very hard for those guys who’ve been isolated for 10 days,” said Catt.

Hansen returned to training this week and was announced in the starting line-up this morning. Captain Johnny Sexton has also been cleared on return-to-play protocols after picking up an injury in the first Test, so he is set to start alongside Jamison Gibson-Park.

Farrell also made further changes to the replacements with Ulster hook Rob Herring and Connacht prop Finlay Bealham named after injuries. Dave Heffernan is out with concussion from the game in Eden Park and Tom O’Toole also misses out.

“Some people are unlucky probably not to start because they had good impact off the bench, etc. They understand that as well,” Farrell told Irish Rugby media.

“There’s a bit of doubt creeps in when you don’t know the answers, but they know the answers, they know the bits they need to get right,” he added.

21 year old sports journalist from Drogheda. Student at Dublin City University. Drogheda United Correspondent for FinalWhistle.ie

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