Ireland captain Paul O'Connell and Gordon D'Arcy have been restored to the starting line-up for Saturday's crunch Six Nations clash with Wales.
The Munster lock has recovered from a chest infection and replaces Dan Tuohy, while D'Arcy is back alongside Brian O'Driscoll at inside centre after returning from a stomach bug.
"I've just got a little bit of a cough left, that's all," said O'Connell.
"It's a bit embarrassing really. I've copped plenty of slagging from the old-school players I've played with for years.
"I've worked hard to get into a position where I could play in the Six Nations, so to miss out on the first game was frustrating and disappointing."
Tuohy is preferred to Ulster teammate Iain Henderson on the bench and is the only other change from the 23 head coach Joe Schmidt fielded in last week's 28-6 victory over Scotland.
Henderson and centre Luke Marshall have both returned to Ulster and are among their replacements for Friday's Pro12 game with Ospreys.
Ulster wing Andrew Trimble's try-scoring turn against Scotland has been enough for him to hold off Fergus McFadden, who again takes a seat on the bench.
Ireland: R Kearney, Trimble, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, D Kearney, Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best, Ross, Toner, O'Connell (c), O'Mahony, Henry, Heaslip.
Replacements: Cronin, McGrath, Moore, Tuohy, O'Donnell, Boss, Jackson, McFadden.