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- International Match
- 16th Nov 2013
- KO 17:45
- Ground: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
- Att: 46,000
Autumn international: Ireland v Australia preview
- Australia bolster their pack
- O'Connell to captain Irish
- McKenzie salutes new backline
- Ireland counting on Toner
- O'Connell calls for intensity
Captain Paul O'Connell is back for his first Ireland start in 18 months when Australia visit Dublin's Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
The Munster lock came off the bench during last week's 40-9 victory over Samoa and has been passed fit for a starting role against the Wallabies.
O'Connell partners Devin Toner in the second row and is reunited in the same Ireland team as fellow veteran Brian O'Driscoll for the first time since the 2011 World Cup; although they did play together for the Lions in Australia last summer.
Scrum-half Eoin Reddan is another making his comeback after a long injury absence. Conor Murray drops to the bench, while Jonathan Sexton has overcome a hip injury to partner Reddan in the half-backs.
Perhaps the biggest call from Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, taking charge for just the second time, is the preference of Luke Marshall to Gordon D'Arcy as O'Driscoll's centre partner.
Ireland's replacement hooker Sean Cronin expects the 6ft 11in Toner, his Leinster club mate, to form a formidable partnership with O'Connell.
Cronin said: "Dev has been a rock in the Leinster pack this year and he has stepped up to the plate the last 18 months.
"It is fantastic for him, a huge opportunity. I thought he did well last week and it is great that he is getting another opportunity and Paulie is coming in next to him.
"I'm sure they can get a good relationship going."
O'Connell is just relishing being fit to enjoy what he admits are the closing chapters of his international career.
"It's been great, from the experience of going from room to room to see the players last week to taking the bus to the ground," he said.
"Sadly these moments are going to be less and less as I am old now but I cherish it more and I enjoy it more."
Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has made three changes - all in the forwards - from the starting XV on duty during last week's 50-20 win against Italy in Turin.
Scott Fardy returns at blindside flanker while Sekope Kepu starts at tighthead prop in place of Ben Alexander, who is being rested, which also allows Paddy Ryan to take his place on the bench for the first time this year after making his debut against France last year.
Rob Simmons will revert to his more accustomed role in the second row as the third change.
Ireland: Kearney, Bowe, O'Driscoll, Marshall, McFadden, Sexton, Reddan, Heaslip, O'Brien, O'Mahony, O'Connell (capt), Toner, Ross, Best, Healy
Replacements: Cronin, McGrath, Archer, McCarthy, McLaughlin, Murray, Madigan, Henshaw
Australia: Folau, Ashley-Cooper, Kuridrani, Toomua, Cummins, Cooper, Genia, Mowen (capt), Hooper, Fardy, Horwill, Simmons, Kepu, Moore, Slipper
Replacements: Polota-Nau, Robinson, Ryan, Timani, Gill, White, Leali'ifano, Tomane
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|Saturday 18th October|
|10:00||Australia vs New Zealand|
|Saturday 1st November|
|TBC||USA vs New Zealand|
|Saturday 8th November|
|TBC||Scotland vs Argentina|
|14:00||Italy vs Samoa|
|14:30||England vs New Zealand|
|14:30||Wales vs Australia|
|16:45||France vs Fiji|
|17:00||Ireland vs South Africa|
|Saturday 15th November|
|TBC||Scotland vs New Zealand|
|14:30||England vs South Africa|
|14:30||Italy vs Argentina|
|14:30||Wales vs Fiji|
|20:00||France vs Australia|
|Sunday 16th November|
|14:30||Ireland vs Georgia|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|TBC||Scotland vs Tonga|
|14:30||Italy vs South Africa|
|16:30||Ireland vs Australia|
|17:30||Wales vs New Zealand|
|19:00||England vs Samoa|
|20:00||France vs Argentina|
|Saturday 29th November|
|14:30||England vs Australia|
|14:30||Wales vs South Africa|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com