Following on from his man of the match performance for Munster last Saturday in Cardiff, Paul O'Connell returns to the Ireland starting XV for the first time since the World Cup replacing Mick O'Driscoll for the clash with Wales.
also returns to the starting fifteen ahead of Bernard Jackman
while coach Eddie O'Sullivan
has been spared the decision of who to pick at full back with both Geordan Murphy and Girvan Dempsey requiring further time to recover from their injuries.
Ireland: (v Wales, RBS 6 Nations, Croke Park, Saturday, March 8th, kick-off 1:15 p.m. ):
A. N. Other; Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Andrew Trimble, Robert Kearney; Ronan O'Gara, Eoin Reddan; Marcus Horan, Rory Best, John Hayes; Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell; Denis Leamy, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Bernard Jackman, Tony Buckley, Mick O'Driscoll, Simon Easterby, Peter Stringer, Paddy Wallace, Shane Horgan.