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RugbyU: 'Embarrassed' O'Connell returns against Wales


Ireland captain Paul O'Connell said he felt "embarrassed" upon his return to the team for Saturday's Six Nations clash against Wales in Dublin.

The veteran lock pulled out of last week's 28-6 win at home to Scotland just hours before kick-off with a chest infection.

But he has now been given the all clear for the Lansdowne Road visit of champions Wales, beaten 30-22 by the Irish in last season's corresponding clash.

"I've just got a little bit of a cough left, that's all," said O'Connell. "It's a bit embarrassing really: I've copped plenty of slagging from the old-school players I've played with for years.

"I've just finished a course of antibiotics, I'm finishing them today (Thursday).

"I've played matches on them before, so I don't struggle with it at all."

Relieved Ireland coach Joe Schmidt jokingly added: "If we get through Saturday morning with him he'll be fit and ready to go!

"He trained fully on Thursday and I'm confident there will be no late changes to that this time around," said the New Zealander, whose plans for his first Six Nations match in charge of Ireland were disrupted by O'Connell's no-show.

"As soon as I saw the name on my phone on Sunday I knew something was up," Schmidt said. "The doctor doesn't ring at eight in the morning to ask if I want to go for a coffee."

Dan Tuohy, O'Connell's stand-in against the Scots, resumes his place on the bench, with the only change to the starting side seeing the fit-again Gordon D'Arcy replace Luke Marshall at inside centre.

Ireland team to play Wales in a Six Nations international at Dublin's Lansdowne Road on Saturday (1430GMT kick-off):

Ireland (15-1)

Rob Kearney; Andrew Trimble, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, David Kearney; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Chris Henry, Peter O'Mahony; Paul O'Connell (capt), Devin Toner; Mike Ross, Rory Best, Cian Healy

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Dan Tuohy, Tommy O'Donnell, Isaac Boss, Paddy Jackson, Fergus McFadden