O'Gara, in Eddie O'Sullivan's words, "pulled the strings" for Ireland when they last beat Australia (18-9) in November 2002. The Munster out-half landed six penalties in the Lansdowne Road rain to steer the men in green to a prized win.
Brian O'Driscoll's first outing as captain of Ireland was in that 18-9 triumph over the Wallabies back in November 2002. Since then, the Leinster centre has skippered his country to a total of 22 wins in 31 Test matches. He is closing in on Keith Wood's captaincy record - the former hooker led Ireland 36 times during his international career.
Ulster's Andrew Trimble, alongside Irish team doctor Dr. Jim McShane, sat out training on Tuesday in order to rest his hamstring injury. Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of Trimble's Ireland debut when ironically, he lined out against Australia.
Brian O'Driscoll has a laugh while stretching with his Leinster team-mate Girvan Dempsey. O'Driscoll, 27, has always rated Australian back lines highly, and a new element could be added this weekend if the statuesque Lote Tuqiri and Stirling Mortlock are paired together in the tourists' midfield.
After playing the Aussies in June, O'Driscoll admitted at the time: "The Australian backs are probably a little smarter than New Zealand's. They tend to read the game extremely well and they work out early where they think they might exploit your frailties."
Paddy Wallace got on to earn his first cap in last weekend's 32-15 win over the Springboks, replacing Ronan O'Gara with just two minutes remaining. The Ulster utility back, who travelled Down Under for the 2003 World Cup but failed to win a cap, will be hoping for more game-time against the Wallabies and the Pacific Islands.
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan has been giving little away this week about possible changes to the team for the Australian game, admitting: "You can say you can rotate the players through the Autumn internationals and to hell with the results but at the same time, that doesn't do much either for confidence if you are taking three beatings. It is juggling that ball.
"I said last week that if we got a big performance (against South South Africa) that would give us a bit of elbow room for this week and I think we've got that now. We will have a look at it and kick on for Australia."
Elements that particularly pleased the Corkman from the win against the Springboks were the lineout and scrum. O'Sullivan added: "I was very happy with how the lineout went. The first throws for both hookers went on completely the wrong sides as the wind was gusting. It was a very difficult day and I was worried as well that they (South Africa) had picked a team to go after our lineout. They had five big jumpers and we basically had three recognised jumpers.
"Our throws had to be inch perfect and once we figured out where we were, our rhythm in the lineout was good and we won most of our ball and started getting into their lineout a bit.
"I was also very happy with our scrum. It was messy at times but we got the quality of possession at the base of the scrum that we wanted and didn't give them any go-forward ball."
**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**
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