Rugby

Big guns back for Ireland

2013-11-14 19:56
Paul O'Connell (AFP Photo)

Dublin - Ireland will welcome back four members of the British and Irish Lions squad that beat Australia this year when they host the Wallabies on Saturday but there is no room for another Lion Conor Murray who drops to the bench.

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell, prop Cian Healy and flanker Sean O'Brien, who all came off the bench in last weekend's 40-9 win over Samoa, rejoin the starting line-up alongside Johnny Sexton who, as expected, resumes duties at flyhalf.

Scrumhalf Murray, who was used as a replacement in the last two Lions' tests, is replaced by Sexton's partner at Leinster Eoin Reddan, indicating that new coach Joe Schmidt wants his side to play fast and take the game to the visitors.

"I think Conor did well last week, I don't think there was anything the matter with his game, it's just coming into this series, we had a mindset of trying to grow the starting XV," Schmidt told a news conference on Thursday.

"It's an opportunity to broaden the squad a little bit, we have to have 30-35 players with the ability to play international rugby... I think it's a really good team."

The only other change from Schmidt's first game in charge sees 22-year-old Ulster centre Luke Marshall come in for Gordon D'Arcy, with Brian O'Driscoll's long-time partner at club and country dropping out of the match day squad all together.

Elsewhere, towering second rower Devin Toner gets the nod over Leinster team mate Mike McCarthy to line up alongside O'Connell while Ian Madigan's versatility earns him a spot on the bench ahead of Paddy Jackson who impressed at flyhalf last week.

"I think the squad has changed dramatically since I was last involved," said O'Connell, who has not started since the 2012 Six Nations championship. "There was a lot of injuries last year but that has helped bring a lot of guys through."

Ireland:

15-Rob Kearney, 14-Tommy Bowe, 13-Brian O'Driscoll, 12-Luke Marshall, 11-Fergus McFadden, 10-Johnny Sexton, 9-Eoin Reddan, 8-Jamie Heaslip, 7-Sean O'Brien, 6-Peter O'Mahony, 5-Devin Toner, 4-Paul O'Connell, 3-Mike Ross, 2-Rory Best, 1-Cian Healy

Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-Jack McGrath, 18-Stephen Archer, 19-Mike McCarthy, 20-Kevin McLaughlin, 21-Conor Murray, 22-Ian Madigan, 23-Robbie Henshaw

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