JOE SCHMIDT HAS made six changes to the Ireland team that beat Samoa, ahead on this Saturday’s clash with Australia at Lansdowne Road.
Paul O’Connell comes in for Mike McCarthy in the second-row and will captain Ireland for the first time since he led his country out against France, in Paris, in the 2012 Six Nations. The Munster lock is partnered in the second row by Devin Toner.
Conor Murray has been replaced by Leinster scrum-half Eoin Reddan, with Jonathan Sexton coming in at out-half. Paddy Jackson, who started at 10 against Samoa, does not feature on the bench. Ian Madigan will cover out-half and inside centre while Robbie Henshaw, another sub, will cover fullback, wing and outside centre.
Gordon D’Arcy loses his 12 jersey to Ulster’s Luke Marshall. The 22-year-old will partner Brian O’Driscoll in the Irish midfield. Tommy Bowe and Fergus McFadden are on the right and left wing respectively.
Brian O’Driscoll takes a Jonny Sexton-shaped seat in training. INPHO/Billy Stickland
The only other change in the pack sees Jack McGrath replaced at loose-head by Leinster teammate Cian Healy and Sean O’Brien replace the injured Chris Henry at openside. The Tullow Tank rejoins back row sparring partners Peter O’Mahony and Jamie Heaslip.
Also included on the Ireland bench are Sean Cronin, Stephen Archer, Mike McCarthy, Murray and Kevin McLaughlin.
Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, B O’Driscoll, L Marshall, F McFadden; J Sexton, E Reddan; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O’Connell (c); P O’Mahony, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.
Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, S Archer, M McCarthy, K McLaughlin, C Murray, I Madigan, R Henshaw.
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