Melbourne - Six Nations champions Ireland turned to key men
Johnny Sexton and Cian Healy on Thursday as they look to salvage their series
in the do-or-die second Test against Australia in Melbourne.
The veterans watched on from the reserves bench last weekend
as Australia won 18-9 in Brisbane to end the world number two team's unbeaten
stretch of 12 internationals.
Coach Joe Schmidt played understudy Joey Carbery at number
10 with an eye to his options for next year's World Cup in Japan, but has
turned to 32-year-old Leinster ace Sexton to guide the Irish attack on
Sexton will be making his 75th appearance for his country,
while loose-head prop Healy lines up for his 80th cap as one of eight team
changes for the second of three Tests.
"It's not something I've done with Ireland for a long,
long time so it needed a bit of getting used to," Sexton said of his rare
role as a reserve.
"It's a different type of game when you're on the
bench. You have a lot of nervous energy. It's all about starting for everybody
really, that's why you want to get the starting place."
The Wallabies, under former Leinster boss Michael Cheika,
were physical in Brisbane and they will be unchanged in Melbourne for the first
time in the coach's four-year tenure.
"We expected it (last week)," Sexton said.
"Under Michael Cheika, they will bring that and we spoke about that; we
know him better than anyone, really.
"We knew it was coming, but we probably didn't deal
with it as well as we could have in terms of allowing them to come out of the
line and hit us like they did.
"We'll learn from it and I'm sure they'll bring the
same intensity this week. Michael is a pretty relentless character and he will
demand the same of them this week."
Sexton, who is expected to probe for weaknesses in the
Wallabies through his trademark kicking, paid tribute to Australia's backline
"They've got quality throughout the team. When you look
at their backline, it's scary the amount of pace and ball players they have at
the same time," he said.
Schmidt is also looking to neutralise the impact of David
Pocock and Michael Hooper over the Irish ball by naming Dan Leavy at openside
Just three forwards from the first Test defeat have been
retained with James Ryan, CJ Stander and captain Peter O'Mahony keeping their
places as five Leinster men bolster their pack.
In contrast, Australia are unchanged with Cheika retaining
the same match-day squad in back-to-back Tests for the first time in his 46
games in charge.
It means there is no place for flanker Ned Hanigan, who is
back from injury, or lock Rory Arnold who is returning from a suspension.
Ireland, who haven't won in 11 internationals in Australia
dating back to 1979, need a victory in Melbourne to take the series to a
decider in Sydney next week.
15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Caleb Timu, 7 Michael Hooper (captain) 6 David Pocock, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lukhan Tui, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Nick Phipps 23 Reece Hodge
15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Peter O'Mahony (captain), 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Cian Healy
Substitutes: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Jordan Larmour