Ireland v Australia: Paul O'Connell out to atone for 'toughest day'

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell
Paul O'Connell succeeded Jamie Heaslip as Ireland captain following the appointment of Joe Schmidt as coach
Autumn international: Ireland v Australia
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday 22 November Kick-off: 16:30 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and BBC Radio Ulster; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Captain Paul O'Connell admits Ireland must improve if they are to atone for last year's defeat by Australia in Saturday's Test at the Aviva Stadium.

O'Connell criticised Ireland's lack of mental and physical edge in the 32-15 loss last November, describing it as their "toughest day" under Joe Schmidt.

Since then, the Irish have lost just two games, to New Zealand and England.

"In so many aspects of that game they took us apart and that was the big disappointment," admitted O'Connell.

"I think it was our toughest day (under Schmidt), yeah," added the 35-year-old, who was named Ireland skipper after the former Leinster coach took over the reins prior to last year's autumn series.

Last five Ireland v Australia meetings
November 2013: Ireland 15 Australia 32 - Aviva Stadium, Dublin
September 2011: Ireland 15 Australia 6 - World Cup, Auckland
June 2010: Australia 22 Ireland 15 - Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
November 2009: Ireland 20 Australia 20 - Croke Park, Dublin
June 2008: Australia 18 Ireland 12 - Melbourne

The defeat, which saw Nick Cummins claim a brace of tries, was one of the few disappointments Ireland have suffered under Schmidt.

He has transformed Ireland's fortunes since taking the helm, claiming the Six Nations crown in his first campaign and edging the side up to third place in the world rankings.

"There was a lot of excitement when Joe took over the job. He'd been so successful with Leinster, and I think we had a lot of really good things in place going into the game.

"But ultimately there's a few things in rugby as well, that no matter who's coaching or who you're playing or where you're playing that are really important.

"The physical confrontation, being built up for that and ready for that, is massive.

"And I think in that game last year were weren't in the right place, and they were just so far ahead of us in that regard.

"That's where we realised you have to be able to marry the two, you have to be able to marry the detail, the knowledge of your role, with the big, physical confrontation you need to be able to manage as well."

Australia coach Michael Cheika and Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton

O'Connell warned his team-mates that Australia will not suffer for fluency despite last month's change of coach from Ewen McKenzie to former Leinster boss Michael Cheika.

"They seem to have adapted really well," said O'Connell, who hopes to lead Ireland to their first clean sweep of victories in an autumn series since 2006.

"Their French game last week just looked so physical: the line speed of both teams; the way both teams tackled; the way both teams competed at the ruck.

"They don't seem to be struggling with the changeover.

"They are a bit further down the track than us, they've had their summer series, the Rugby Championship, they have had three games in a row to gel and work together.

"So they're in a very good place in terms of how they've gelled in terms of combinations," warned the Munster second row.

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