Rugby: Bundee Aki to captain Ireland in tour opener against Māori All Blacks

Former Chiefs and Counties Manukau centre Bundee Aki will captain Ireland in their midweek clash against the Māori All Blacks, as the opening fixture of his side's New Zealand tour.

Aki, 32, will lead a rotated side in Wednesday night's clash, played before Ireland begin their three-test series against the All Blacks on Saturday.

Bundee Aki celebrates against the All Blacks.
Bundee Aki celebrates against the All Blacks. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

The Hamilton fixture sees Aki return to FMG Stadium, where he played two seasons with the Chiefs, winning a Super Rugby crown in 2013.

The starting XV boasts five players yet to make test debuts for Ireland - fullback Jimmy O'Brien, first-five Ciaran Frawley, prop Jeremy Loughman, lock Joe McCarthy and loose forward Cian Prendergast.

Veteran Keith Earls is the most experienced player in the side with 96 test caps, starting on the left wing.

On the bench, 116-test prop Cian Healy has been named, along with test halfback Conor Murray.

Kiwi-born Joey Carberry also features on the bench, in line to play his first match on New Zealand soil, since moving to Ireland as an 11-year-old.

The Māori All Blacks  are led by the pair of dropped All Blacks Brad Weber and TJ Perenara as co-captains.

Ireland: 1-Jeremy Loughman, 2-Dave Heffernan, 3-Tom O'Toole, 4-Joe McCarthy, 5-Kieran Treadwell, 6-Cian Prendergast, 7-Nick Timoney, 8-Gavin Coombes, 9-Craig Casey, 10-Ciaran Frawley, 11-Keith Earls, 12-Bundee Aki (c), 13-James Hume, 14-Jordan Larmour, 15-Jimmy O'Brien

Reserves: 16-Niall Scannell, 17-Cian Healy, 18-Finlay Bealham, 19-Ryan Baird, 20-Jack Conan, 21-Conor Murray, 22-Joey Carberry, 23-Michael Lowry

Join Newshub for live updates of the Māori All Blacks v Ireland from 7pm Wednesday