New Zealand manager Danny Hay says Thursday night's friendly in Dublin represents a "fresh start" for his team as they play their first game for 17 months. 

The All Whites haven't played a match - competitive or otherwise - since their 2-1 away win over India in the Intercontinental Cup in June 2018. 

The shockingly long interval between games is a consequence of upheaval at board level with CEO Andy Martin resigning after an investigation was launched into the federation's technical director and women's coach Andreas Herak, who'd been accused of bullying 13 team members. 

This led to several changes at board level with the actual football remaining a side-issue until the appointment of Hay - a former Leeds United player - as manager in August. 

Speaking to RTÉ Sport ahead of the first ever Ireland-New Zealand football international, the new manager said he was excited to be taking the role and couldn't wait for the off. 

However, he added that the limited time the squad had spent together combined with the presence of several debutants in the starting line-up meant he was inclined to 'park' tonight's result. 

"Playing against a very good team, great stadium, beautiful city, what's not to like? It's very exciting for me, I'm very passionate about taking our national team, it means a lot to me to have this role. As a former player, it means even more. 

"It's a fresh start. We haven't played for a long time. It's the vicinity of 520-odd days.   

"The organisation went through a little bit of turmoil. There's been a lot of change at board level, a new CEO and obviously a new head coach now. We've got to put that behind us. 

"We've got to start focusing on 2022 and actually beyond. That's why it's important why we have to give opportunities to some new players, some younger players. Especially when they can be surrounded by the likes of Winston Reid, Chris Wood if he's fit.

"I've got to park the result and put that to one side and just focus on performance. We haven't been together very long so it'd be unfair to expect players to do things we haven't spent a huge amount of time on.

"I just want to come away knowing they've had a good opportunity, that we know a bit about their character and mentality and that they're invested in the direction we're taking."

New Zealand have reached two World Cup finals, in 1982 and 2010. On both occasions, they failed to escape the group phase but emerged with far more credit the second time around. 

They lost all three games in Spain '82 but went unbeaten in South Africa in 2010, aping Ireland's Italia 90 Group F showing by drawing all three matches. This, however, was only good enough to claim third place in the group and they were eliminated. 

Hay said that while the New Zealand style had been defensive and workmanlike over the years, he was hoping to engender a situation where a little more flair could break out. 

"Historically, New Zealand teams have been very hard-working, defensive-minded, backs-to-the-wall, try to nick something on the counter or a set-piece. 

"But I'm going to try and change that. I think we've got a different type of player now. If you do what you always have, you'll get what you've always got. 

"Outside of 1982 and 2010 at the World Cups, there hasn't been a huge amount else. I'd like to give the players a bit more freedom to be creative and express themselves and play a brand of football that's a bit more reflective of who we are as a nation."

Follow Republic of Ireland v New Zealand on Thursday with our live blog on RTÉ Sport Online or the RTÉ News Now App, watch live on RTÉ2 from 7pm or listen live on RTÉ Radio 1 extra.