Ireland overhaul team for 2nd Wallaby Test

Melissa Woods
Star playmaker Johnny Sexton returns in big changes to Ireland's starting 15 to face the Wallabies

Superstar playmaker Johnny Sexton returns among sweeping changes to Ireland's starting team as they try to level their Test series with the Wallabies.

Sexton replaces young five eighth Joey Carbery, re-establishing his successful scrum-base partnership with halfback Conor Murray for Saturday night's second Test at Melbourne's AAMI Park.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said Sexton was itching to get among the action from the kickoff.

"Johnny is always happy when he's on there. I thought he was super last week in his preparation, he brought a bit of confidence into the mix for Joey and pushed him along a little bit," Schmidt said.

"Johnny's had the opportunity to look after Johnny a little more this week and get himself ready to go.

"That's a positive thing. Hopefully, he gets a positive start into the game and, on the back of that, the team get a positive following."

Schmidt made big changes to his forwards bringing in a new front row, hooker Niall Scannell and Leinster props Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong, for the Six Nations champions.

Dan Leavey comes in at openside flanker ahead of Jordi Murphy and Devin Toner joins James Ryan in the second row.

Leavey will be crucial in the breakdown battle after David Pocock's domination in the Wallabies' first Test win in Brisbane.

Star outside centre Gary Ringrose comes in, with Robbie Henshaw switching to inside centre and Andrew Conway taking over on the right wing from Jacob Stockdale.

Schmidt said his team had been "flat" after their 18-9 opening loss, which ended a 12-game winning streak.

"We trained well today, we were a little bit flat on Tuesday to be honest and it took some players a little bit of time to find their feet," he said.

"I'd like to think we've got a bit more rhythm to us.

"One of the really good things in the Six Nations was I felt we built through it and I'm hoping to build through the tour."

IRELAND:

Rob Kearney, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Keith Earls, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, CJ Stander, Dan Leavy, Peter O'Mahony (capt), James Ryan, Devin Toner, Tadhg Furlong, Niall Scannell, Cian Healy.

Res: Rob Herring, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour.