Ireland bring their big names back for Australia

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has brought his big name players back for Saturday’s Test against Australia for what will be the first test between the teams since the world cup.

Ireland and Australia met in the Pool stages of the 2011 Rugby World Cup and Ireland pulled off a shock 15-6 victory.

Schmidt recalled British and Irish Lions quartet, Ireland captain Paul O’Connell, Cian Healy, Sean O’Brien and fly-half Johnny Sexton after they were either on the replacements bench or, in Sexton’s case, rested entirely for last Saturday’s 40-9 victory over Samoa.

It will be the first time in two years that O’Connell and fellow Irish great Brian O’Driscoll will start a match in an Irish shirt together largely because the skipper has had a succession of injuries.

Sexton comes in for Paddy Jackson while there is a fourth cap for Ulster centre Luke Marshall, who replaces the vastly-experienced Gordon D’Arcy — both Jackson and D’Arcy have been left out of the 23-man squad.

Schmidt, who will come face to face with one of the candidates he beat to the Ireland post earlier this year in Wallabies’ handler Ewen McKenzie, said he was pleased with the line-up he and his coaching team had selected.

“It’s a really good team and will help us put our best foot forward,” he said.

“We will need to be on our guard as Australia are on an upward curve in which consistency in selection of late has helped.

“They scored 50 points last weekend against Italy (50-20) and did the same to the Argentinians in Argentina (54-17 in October in Rosario) and there are not many sides who have managed to do that to the Pumas in their own backyard in recent times.

“If you do let them loose then they will do damage.”

Schmidt, who was named as coach at the end of April replacing Declan Kidney who was sacked following a disappointing Six Nations, said that neither Jackson nor D’Arcy were left out because of their performances against Samoa.

“We were delighted with Paddy and how he played against Samoa,” said the 48-year-old New Zealander, who won two European Cups as coach of Leinster.

“He is unlucky not to be on the bench but we just feel that Ian Madigan offers us more in terms of cover as he can play at full back, centre and obviously fly-half.

“Gordon has taken it really well. He is the ultimate professional and this week he has been taking Luke through his paces, helping him.

“This is what our aim is which is to build a squad of around 35 players all capable of playing in the starting XV.

“It had become a little narrow in terms of selection in the past few years.”

Schmidt did spring something of a surprise in dropping another Lion scrum-half, Conor Murray, to the bench with Leinster’s Eoin Reddan replacing him and will see him win his 52nd cap.

However, again Schmidt was at pains to deny Murray was being punished for an unsatisfactory performance against the Samoans — although once Reddan came on in the Samoa game he sparked the Irish into scoring three of their five tries.

“Conor has also been helping Eoin out this week. In a sense Eoin will be representing Conor out there on Saturday.

“You can’t have guys solely focussing on their individual game when you are building a squad.”

The starting line-up features 11 of the XV who took to the field in their memorable 2011 World Cup pool stage 15-6 victory over Australia in Eden Park, the last time the two sides met.


Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Marshall, Fergus McFadden; Johnny Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Jamie Heaslip (capt), Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony; Paul O’Connell (capt), Devin Toner; Mike Ross, Rory Best, Cian Healy

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Stephen Archer, Mike McCarthy, Kevin McLaughlin, Conor Murray, Ian Madigan, Robbie Henshaw.

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