Ireland v Australia, Croke Park, November 15
O'Driscoll set to join 100 club
November 12, 2009
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll steered Ireland to Six Nations success earlier this year © Getty Images
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll will become the 11th centurion in Test rugby when he leads his side out against Australia at Croke Park on Sunday.
The talismanic Leinster centre will win his 94th Ireland cap that when added to his six British & Irish Lions Test appearances sees him join an elite group of players to have reached the figure of 100 internationals.
O'Driscoll's provincial team-mate Cian Healy will make his debut following an injury to prop Marcus Horan and is joined in the front-row by Munster hooker Jerry Flannery, who has recovered from a calf injury to start, and John Hayes. Hayes has been named to start despite a recent five week ban for stamping on Healy during a Magners League showdown.
Leinster's talented fly-half Jonathan Sexton and Connacht hooker Sean Cronin are also in line for debuts off the bench. Ulster skipper Paddy Wallace partner O'Driscoll in the centre. There is no place in the 22 for O'Driscoll's Leinster team-mate Gordon D'Arcy, with Keith Earls providing midfield cover on the bench.
Ronan O'Gara and Tomas O'Leary are the all-Munster halfback pairing, while Tommy Bowe, Luke Fitzgerald and Rob Kearney are the back-three after starting in the same formation for the Lions' second Test against South Africa. The pack has a steady and experienced feel, with the second-row of Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan packing down ahead of a back-row containing Stephen Ferris, David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip.
Australia have recalled flanker David Pocock for their latest Dublin encounter with the Western Force flanker displacing veteran George Smith in the only change to the side that accounted for England last time out.
Quade Cooper and Digby Ioane are again called upon in the centre, while Matt Giteau and rising star Will Genia continue their burgeoning partnership at halfback. Rocky Elsom will return to the city where he enjoyed a Heineken Cup-winning sabbatical last season and go head-to-head with many of his former team-mates.
Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), P Wallace (Ulster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); R O'Gara (Munster), T O'Leary (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), J Flannery (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Court (Ulster), L Cullen (Leinster), D Leamy (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster), K Earls (Munster).
Australia: A Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies); P Hynes (Queensland Reds), D Ioane (Queensland Reds), Q Cooper (Queensland Reds), D Mitchell (NSW Waratahs); M Giteau (Brumbies), W Genia (Queensland Reds); B Robinson (NSW Waratahs), S Moore (Brumbies), B Alexander (Brumbies), J Horwill (Queensland Reds), M Chisholm (Brumbies), R Elsom (Brumbies, capt), D Pocock (Western Force), W Palu (NSW Waratahs).
Replacements: T Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs), M Dunning (Western Force), D Mumm (NSW Waratahs), G Smith (Brumbies), L Burgess (NSW Waratahs), R Cross (Western Force), J O'Connor (Western Force).
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa).