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Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Prop Healy wins first Ireland cap

Venue: Croke Park, Dublin Date: Sunday, 15 November Kick-off: 1500 GMT Coverage: Live coverage on BBC Two, updates on BBC Radio Ulster MW and the BBC Sport website

Leinster prop Cian Healy
Cian Healy of Leinster wins his first cap for Ireland against Australia

Leinster prop Cian Healy will make his Ireland debut in Sunday's Test against Australia at Croke Park.

Healy, 22, replaces Marcus Horan, who is out until the new year after having an unspecified medical procedure.

The only other change from the Grand Slam win in Wales sees Paddy Wallace get the nod ahead of Gordon D'Arcy to partner Brian O'Driscoll at centre.

David Pocock comes in for flanker George Smith in Australia's only change from the side which beat England.

Ireland will have John Hayes in the front row as he has completed a five-week ban while hooker Jerry Flannery has been passed fit after a calf injury.

Ireland camp impressed by Australia

Hayes was suspended after being sent off for stamping on Healy as he lay exposed at the bottom of a maul in Munster's 30-0 Magners League drubbing by Leinster on 3 October.

"One of the great ironies of sporting life is that John took a sabbatical for a few weeks and now he's in to mind Cian!" said Ireland's head coach Declan Kidney.

"Cian has looked good all season. I wish Marcus [Horan] well, but the two of them would have been battling for the position.

"Marcus' injury made the decision easier, but Cian had been playing well and merits selection in his own right."

Healy has developed into a fine scrummager as well as a powerful ball carrier, but admits he will have a nervous few days in the build-up to Saturday's clash.

"It's a dream come true - it's what I've wanted since I've been a child," Healy said. "It will be a special and unbelievable experience.

"I was hoping for this but I didn't expect it to happen. It was just a case of trying my hardest for Leinster and seeing what happened.

"I've been told to play as myself and not to try and do anything I'm not comfortable with. I'll be nervous, but it's more 'enjoyable' nerves. It will be a tough few days, trying to sleep."


Connacht hooker Sean Cronin, 23, and Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton, 24, could also win their first caps having been named on the bench, where they are joined by Ulster prop Tom Court and Leinster lock Leo Cullen.

Former Wasps scrum-half Eoin Reddan returns to the fold as a replacement, with Lions tourist Keith Earls also on the bench.

Captain O'Driscoll will make his 100th Test appearance on Sunday having accumulated 93 caps for Ireland and six for the Lions.

After launching their autumn campaign against the Wallabies, Ireland take on Fiji at the RDS six days later before world champions South Africa come to Croke Park on 28 November.

Ireland have beaten Australia just twice in their last seven meetings, dating back to 2002, and only eight times out of 27 in total.

The Wallabies arrive in Dublin buoyed by their 18-9 victory over England at Twickenham last Saturday, but coach Robbie Deans is mindful of Ireland's achievements this year.

Paddy Wallace and the Irish team relish their match against the Wallabies

"Getting a result last weekend was a great confidence booster for the whole squad, but we know that the standard we produced last week won't be good enough against this Irish team," Deans said.

"There was an uncertainty about England, in terms of the transitional nature of their development as a team, that doesn't pertain to Ireland.

"The Irish are an established and experienced combination who are used to winning, and expect to win, every time that they play.

"You don't get to be Grand Slam champions lightly and they will have a lot of belief because of what they did in the Six Nations. If you combine that with playing at Croke Park, they will take some containing."

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, P Hynes, D Ioane, Q Cooper, D Mitchell, M Giteau, W Genia; B Robinson, S Moore, B Alexander, J Horwill, M Chisholm, R Elsom (capt), D Pocock, W Palu.
Replacements: T Polota Nau, M Dunning, D Mumm, G Smith, L Burgess, R Cross, J O'Connor.

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see also
Hayes ban reduced to five weeks
13 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union
Horan out of Ireland autumn games
06 Nov 09 |  Irish
Henry called into Ireland squad
27 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union

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