Robbie Henshaw - named in Ireland team to take on New Zealand. Photo:

Henshaw set to face All Blacks as Buccaneers recall Barrett connection

Robbie Henshaw played a starring role in Ireland's first ever victory over New Zealand - and the Athlone man will be hoping for an even more momentous victory in tomorrow's Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Tokyo.

Henshaw has been selected at No. 12 on the Ireland team to face the All Blacks. He will be partnered in the centre by Garry Ringrose, with another of Ireland's centres, Bundee Aki, now out of the tournament due to suspension.

In 2016, Henshaw scored the try that clinched victory in Ireland's historic first victory over the All Blacks (40-29), in a match played at Soldier Field, Chicago.

A fortnight later, the All Blacks overturned that result (21-9) and it was a far less memorable occasion for Henshaw, who was stretchered off after a challenge New Zealand flanker Sam Cane. It looked like a dangerously high tackle but it only led to a penalty during the game, and Cane escaped sanction when called before a disciplinary hearing afterwards. 

Henshaw's Buccaneers colleague, Jack Carty has missed out on a place on the match-day squad for the clash with world champions New Zealand. As expected, Johnny Sexton is selected at out-half with Joey Carbery named among the replacements.

Although everyone in Buccaneers is understandably proud of having two players in the Ireland squad, the Athlone club also has a connection to the current New Zealand squad. Kevin 'Smiley' Barrett, father of the three Barrett brothers (Beauden, Scott and Jordie) played with Buccaneers in the 2000/2001 season.

Kevin came to Ireland to manage a farm in Ballinacree, Co. Meath, close enough to Athlone to make it feasible for Kevin to play with Buccaneers.

Pat Hynes was manager of the Buccaneers team during Kevin Barrett's short stint with the club. "We used to call him 'Smiley' because even when he was having a little bit of a falling out with some guy on the pitch, he'd be smiling," Hynes recalled to RTE Sport.

Joe McVeigh, then Buccaneers captain, described Barrett as "a great man in the dressing room" and recalled "he'd come straight from the farm, welly boots on, come into the dressing room, boots on, perform and head off again."

"His sons used to come to the games. When our out-halves - Simon Allnut and David Connellan back then - would be doing their kicking practice, Beauden (pictured above) would be under the posts kicking the ball back to the lads. I would have joked that Beauden learned his trade at Buccaneers," said McVeigh.

A report on an All-Ireland League Division 1 match between Buccaneers and St Mary's College was published in the Westmeath Independent in early May 2001 under the heading 'Brave Buccs let champions off the hook'. The game was played in Ballinasloe and televised live on RTE. Michael Silke's match report mentioned Barrett's role in one of Buccaneers' tries. 

"Kevin Barrett claimed the resultant lineout at the back and… possession was moved swiftly via Chris Keane, Ian Dillon and (Simon) Allnutt to (Justin) Meagher, whose angled run saw him dummy Denis Hickie before holding off (Peter) McKenna's tackle for a splendid try," stated the report. 

In addition to Denis Hickie, that St Mary's team included fellow international stars Malcolm O'Kelly and Victor Costello, while Trevor Brennan missed out on the day due to injury. St Mary's won the match 23-18 despite a spirited showing by a Buccaneers team missing four of their regular backline.

Beauden Barrett played 'minis rugby' with Buccaneers during the family's 16-month spell in Ireland and he also played for Mullingar's U-10 rugby team in a blitz held in Athlone. Beauden went to school in St Fiach's NS in Ballinacree, along with brothers Scott and Kane and they played Gaelic football for the local St Brigid's GAA club.

Another connection between the Irish midlands and Saturday's eagerly awaited game is, of course, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt who played with Mullingar RFC during the 1990s and served as the club's director of rugby. Irish rugby fans will be hoping the clash against his native New Zealand won't be Schmidt's last game in charge as Ireland bid to reach the World Cup semi-finals for the first time. 

Jordan Larmour, man of the match in last weekend's emphatic over Samoa, is not in Ireland's starting line-up and has to be content with a place on the replacements.

Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray will become Ireland’s most capped half-back pairing on Saturday, overtaking Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer, when they are paired together for their 56th international game.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Beauden Barrett has been selected at full-back on the New Zealand team, with his brothers Scott and Jordie among the replacements. 
Ireland team v New Zealand, Rugby World Cup quarter-final
(Tokyo Stadium, Saturday, October 19, kick-off 11.15am Irish time)
15. Rob Kearney 94 caps
14. Keith Earls 81 caps
13. Garry Ringrose 28 caps
12. Robbie Henshaw 39 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale 24 caps
10. Johnny Sexton 87 caps
9. Conor Murray 77 caps
1. Cian Healy 94 caps
2. Rory Best (captain) 123 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong 40 caps
4. Iain Henderson 52 caps
5. James Ryan 22 caps
6. Peter O’Mahony 63 caps
7. Josh van der Flier 22 caps
8. CJ Stander 37 caps

16. Niall Scannell 19 caps
17. Dave Kilcoyne 35 caps
18. Andrew Porter 22 caps
19. Tadhg Beirne 12 caps
20. Rhys Ruddock 25 caps
21. Luke McGrath 18 caps
22. Joey Carbery 21 caps
23. Jordan Larmour 20 caps

New Zealand team v Ireland
 15. Beauden Barrett
14. Sevu Reece
13. Jack Goodhue
12. Anton Lienert-Brown
11. George Bridge
10. Richie Mo’unga
9. Aaron Smith
1. Joe Moody
2. Codie Taylor
3. Nepo Laulala
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Sam Whitelock
6. Ardie Savea
7. Sam Cane
8. Kieran Read (captain)

16. Dane Coles
17. Ofa Tuungafasi
18. Angus Ta’avao
19. Scott Barrett
20. Matt Todd
21. TJ Perenara
22. Sonny Bill Williams
23. Jordie Barrett.