O'Connell and O'Driscoll to lead Irish charge against Wallabies

by RUGBY.com.au staff

British & Irish Lions stalwart Paul O'Connell will lead Ireland against the Qantas Wallabies at the Aviva Stadium this Saturday (Sunday 4.45am AEDT) while legendary centre Brian O'Driscoll earns his 127th cap since his Test debut against Australia in 1999.

O'Connell is joined in the engine room by Devin Toner with Cian Healy introduced to the front row. British & Irish Lions’ star Sean O'Brien starts at openside in the absence of the injured Chris Henry.

O'Driscoll will be partnered in midfield by Ulster youngster Luke Marshall.

Jonathan Sexton returns to the fly half berth and is reunited with his former provincial scrumhalf partner Eoin Reddan.

There are a total of ten 2013 British & Irish Lions involved in the match day 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 the Wallabies 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."

IRELAND Team & Replacements

v Qantas Wallabies, Aviva Stadium

2013 Lansdowne Cup

Sunday, November 17, kick-off 4.45am AEDT


15. Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 47

14. Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) 52

13. Brian O'Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) 126

12. Luke Marshall (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 3

11. Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 20

10. Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92) 36

9. Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster) 51

1. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 40

2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 68

3. Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster) 32

4. Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 8

5. Paul O'Connell (Young Munster/Munster) 86 (capt)

6. Peter O'Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 17

7. Sean O'Brien (UCD/Leinster) 28

8. Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) 58


16. Sean Cronin (St. Mary's College/Leinster) 28

17. Jack McGrath (St. Mary's College/Leinster) 1

18. Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution/Munster) 1

19. Mike McCarthy (Leinster) 13

20. Kevin McLaughlin (St. Mary's College/Leinster) 6

21. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 20

22. Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster) 5

23. Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht) 2

The Qantas Wallabies play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin this Sunday morning November 17th (4.45am AEDT). All Qantas Wallabies 2013 Spring Tour matches are broadcast live on Fox Sports and Channel Ten.