The 24 year old Munster and Young Munster second row, first capped against Wales in 2002, leads the team in the absence of injured Brian O Driscoll, the designated 2004 Six Nations Ireland captain, who has a hamstring injury.
O Driscoll is replaced at outside centre by 23 year old Gordon Darcy, who is selected in the Six Nations for the first time. His previous five caps were earned as replacements. O Driscoll has been replaced in the 22-man squad by Anthony Horgan.
The Ireland team:
15 Girvan Dempsey (Leinster Terenure College) 14 Shane Horgan (Leinster Lansdowne) 13 Gordon Darcy (Leinster Lansdowne) 12 Kevin Maggs (Bath) 11 Tyrone Howe (Ulster Dungannon) 10 Ronan O Gara (Munster Cork Constitution) 9 Peter Stringer (Munster Shannon) 1 Reggie Corrigan (Leinster Greystones) 2 Shane Byrne (Leinster Blackrock College) 3 John Hayes (Munster Shannon) 4 Malcolm O Kelly (Leinster St. Mary s College) 5 Paul O Connell (Munster Young Munster) Captain 6 Simon Easterby (Llanelli) 7 Keith Gleeson (Leinster St. Mary s College) 8 Anthony Foley (Munster Shannon)
Replacements: 16 Frank Sheahan (Munster Cork Constitution), 17 Simon Best (Ulster Belfast Harlequins), 18 Donncha O Callaghan (Munster Cork Constitution), 19 Victor Costello (Leinster St. Mary s College), 20 Guy Easterby (Rotherham), 21 David Humphreys (Ulster Dungannon), 22 Anthony Horgan (Munster Cork Constitution).
Not considered due to injury: Denis Hickie (Leinster - St. Mary s College), Marcus Horan (Munster Shannon), Eric Miller (Leinster Terenure College), Geordan Murphy (Leicester), Brian O Driscoll (Leinster Blackrock College), Alan Quinlan (Munster Shannon).