Ireland will bid to make it two wins out of two under new head coach Joe Schmidt when they host Australia at the Aviva Stadium in the second match of the GUINNESS Series. If they do so, it will be the first time Ireland have chalked up two consecutive victories over the Wallabies since 1979.
2013 GUINNESS SERIES: Saturday, November 16
IRELAND v AUSTRALIA, Aviva Stadium, 5.45pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC Two/IrishRugby.ie Live Blog)
Team News: Paul O’Connell will lead Ireland against Australia at the Aviva Stadium as the new Irish captain starts in the second row in the second game of the GUINNESS Series.
O’Connell is joined in the engine room by Devin Toner with Cian Healy introduced to the front row. Sean O’Brien starts at openside flanker in the absence of the injured Chris Henry.
Brian O’Driscoll earns his 127th cap since his Test debut against Australia in 1999 and will be partnered in midfield by Ulster youngster Luke Marshall.
Jonathan Sexton returns to the out-half berth and is reunited with his former provincial half-back partner Eoin Reddan.
There are a total of ten 2013 British & Irish Lions involved in the matchday squad – Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, O’Driscoll, Sexton, Conor Murray, Jamie Heaslip, O’Brien, O’Connell, Rory Best and Healy.
11 of the selected Ireland team started in the 2011 Rugby World Cup pool victory over Australia at Eden Park which was the last time these sides met.
Commenting on the team selection, head coach Joe Schmidt said: “Coming into this autumn series we had a mindset we would try to grow the squad to a degree, not to have to rely on the same starting fifteen.
“We’re happy with Conor (Murray), but it’s about an opportunity. We were delighted with Paddy (Jackson), and it’s unlucky for Paddy, but we just feel Ian (Madigan) gives us more cover off the bench.
“Johnny (Sexton) was rested last week and he comes in fresh. Gordon (D’Arcy) spent time with Luke (Marshall) during the week making sure he can be as good as possible for this weekend.”
Meanwhile, Australia have made three changes to their starting pack for this weekend’s encounter with Ireland, while hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau also makes his return from injury on the replacements bench.
Those changes to the Wallaby starting line-up include Scott Fardy returning at blindside flanker, Sekope Kepu getting his second starting opportunity of 2013 at tighthead prop, and the versatile Rob Simmons reverting back to his more accustomed lock role.
Kepu comes into the team for fellow tighthead prop Ben Alexander, who is being rested for the Ireland match, which also opens the door for NSW Waratahs front rower Paddy Ryan among the replacements.
Ryan made his Test debut for Australia against France in Paris last year and has been a continually improving player for the Waratahs since playing his first Super Rugby match against New Zealand’s Chiefs in 2011.
Joining Ryan on the bench is experienced 44-times capped hooker Polota-Nau, who is set to put an injury-hit season behind him by playing his first game of 2013 for the Wallabies.
Polota-Nau missed almost half the Super Rugby season along with the British & Irish Lions series after breaking his arm, while a hamstring injury during the Rugby Championship delayed his return until now.
Australia are chasing their first back-to-back victories of 2013 after scoring a convincing 50-20 victory in their second game of the tour against Italy in Turin last weekend.
If Ewen McKenzie’s men are successful it would be Australia’s first triumph in Dublin since the Wallabies beat Ireland 30-14 in 2005.
IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster); Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster) (capt), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster).
Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution/Munster), Mike McCarthy (Leinster), Kevin McLaughlin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster), Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht).
AUSTRALIA: Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs); Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs), Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies), Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies), Nick Cummins (Western Force); Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds), Will Genia (Queensland Reds); James Slipper (Queensland Reds), Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies), Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs), James Horwill (Queensland Reds), Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds), Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies), Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs), Ben Mowen (ACT Brumbies) (capt).
Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs), Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs), Paddy Ryan (NSW Waratahs), Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs), Liam Gill (Queensland Reds), Nic White (ACT Brumbies), Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies), Joe Tomane (ACT Brumbies).
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Television Match Official: Geoff Warren (England)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: Evens; Draw: 18/1; Australia to win: Evens
Pre-Match Quotes: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) – “It’s just another game, the second of the Joe Schmidt tenure and it’s about how we improve on the first one. It’s not about revenge (for missing out on the third Lions Test), that’s nonsense.
“I played twice against Australia during the summer. That’s gone and people need to let go of it. I know I have let go of it. It’s just about Ireland now getting the opportunity to play against a side that’s one of the best in the world.
“Australia are in a bit of a transition period but they’re still a pretty handy team on their day and they’ve shown that recently.
“I always like watching them because they’re exciting. When you’ve got guys like Quade Cooper willing to try things and athletes like Israel Folau and Will Genia bossing games then they can make you look silly.
“When you’ve got guys of that calibre, they’re never going to be far away from being a top side.”
Ewen McKenzie (Australia) – “The breakdown is always a key area to any game, but Ireland has been especially vocal this week on the importance they are placing on attacking us there.
“It will be important for us to be extremely accurate at the breakdown, but overall we’ve gone with a forward pack that is quite capable of dominating in that area, especially with one of our best operators in Scott Fardy coming back from injury.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge and also to the opportunity of building some momentum by winning back-to-back games for the first time this year.
“It’s pleasing that we are beginning to build strong combinations and partnerships in our backs, including those players on the bench and on the fringes, and we’re expecting the more time they spend together the better they will be.”
Pre-Match Links –
Recent Meetings –
2009: Autumn Test: Ireland 20 Australia 20, Croke Park
2010: Summer Tour: Australia 22 Ireland 15, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
2011: Rugby World Cup Pool C: Australia 6 Ireland 15, Eden Park, Auckland