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Ireland coach Andy Farrell expected to call on Ulster faces as he will ring the changes against the Maori All Blacks

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Ireland coach Andy Farrell

Ireland coach Andy Farrell

Ireland coach Andy Farrell

Andy Farrell is set to name a much-changed Ireland team for Wednesday’s opening game of their New Zealand tour against the Maori All Blacks.

With a three-day turnaround before the first Test against the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday, Farrell is likely to hand several fringe players, including a number from Ulster, a chance to impress.

The Ireland head coach is, however, weighing up whether to start senior players like Bundee Aki and Tadhg Beirne, who are both significantly short of game time.

No one has been ruled out of contention for the uncapped Maori clash yet, but after an intense training session at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday, Farrell will assess the condition of his squad today ahead of a huge week.

Farrell said: “There are one or two bangs and bruises because training has started off in the right way.

"We’ve had to dampen things down a little bit because they are good to go. They are keen, which is a good sign.

“It depends on how training goes over the next couple of days.

“You know what it’s like, best plans don’t always come to fruition.

“But let’s put it this way, you don’t have to be a mathematician to work out that five or six of them are going to have to back up in a certain way, and that’s the challenge.

“The way that we train, the set-up of the week because of the nature of the Maori game on Wednesday, it will make it different. Some people backing up will make it different.

“It’s good, it keeps it fresh. It’s a different way of doing things and that’s the good part of touring because you find out about yourselves.”

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