Autumn international: Ireland v Australia preview
Last Updated: 16/11/13 5:06pm
Paul O'Connell: Ireland skipper partners 6ft 11in Devin Toner in the second row
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
Autumn International 2013: Ireland v Australia
Paul O'Connell says Ireland need to play with more intensity following their disappointing 32-15 loss to Australia.
Ireland are counting on towering lock Devin Toner to dominate the line-out against a resurgent Australia on Saturday.
Australia coach Ewen McKenzie is delighted with the progress made by his backline since their defeat to the Lions.