O'Connor replaces injured Ioane for Australia
Updated: September 14, 2011, 23:13
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand(AP) James O'Connor has been recalled to replace injured winger Digby Ioane in the only change to Australia's starting lineup for Saturday's Rugby World Cup clash with Ireland.
O'Connor will start a test for the first time since he was suspended for disciplinary reasons after missing two team functions last month when the World Cup squad was announced.
The 21-year-old utility back went on as a reserve in Australia's opener against Italy last weekend, sparking a four-try second-half burst in the 32-6 win.
"Welcome back,'' Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said at the team announcement Thursday. "Well done off the bench, he did a good job off the bench. He will speak for himself, but I've got no doubt he's less likely to take that jersey for granted in the future.''
Ioane needed surgery on his injured thumb after the match and won't be available until later in the tournament.
In the only positional change, Adam Ashley-Cooper switches from the right to the left wing, allowing O'Connor to play on the right side in Australia's toughest match in Pool C. Drew Mitchell has been recalled to the reserves bench and is part of the match squad for the first time this year after missing the Tri-Nations campaign due an injured ankle.
O'Connor will take over the kicking duties from flyhalf Quade Cooper.
Center Anthony Fainga'a, a star in Australia's Tri-Nations victory over New Zealand last month but replaced after an unhappy first half last weekend against Italy, will line up against Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll.
Mitchell scored seven tries in five matches in the 2007 World Cup, including a hat-trick against Fiji.
"Drew has worked hard within the group, he has the background with us and is ready for this opportunity,'' Deans said. "While it is disappointing for Digby that he is going to be on the sidelines for a while, we are confident he will be available to us again before too long. His timelines will depend on how his rehabilitation goes, but the operation on Tuesday night went well.''
Australia has won all four previous World Cup matches against Ireland, but had some very close shaves - the last-minute quarterfinal win in Dublin in 1991 still among the highlights of the event.
Deans said the Wallabies would be cautious against Ireland, which opened with an unconvincing 22-10 win over the United States on Sunday.
"They are a solid unit, filled with experienced performers. Their set-piece is excellent, they have a big pack and they will be up for it, seeing this match as a great opportunity to make a statement,'' Deans said. "Crucially, they have also troubled us in the past and will believe they can do so again. We've never had it easy playing against them.''
Australia: Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Anthony Fainga'a, Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Radike Samo, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom, James Horwill (captain), Dan Vickerman, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Burgess, Drew Mitchell.