The head coach has named captain Paul O’Connell in his starting XV after the Munster lock missed their 26-8 victory over Scotland last weekend due to a chest infection.
Man for man they are a very big side and we are going to have to be fairly smart about the way we play
Veteran centre Gordon D’Arcy replaces Ulster’s Luke Marshall at No12, with the Leinster man set to partner his Irish team-mate Brian O’Driscoll for the 53rd time.
Ireland were memorable 30-22 winners against Wales at the Millennium Stadium last year, and Schmidt is expecting a tough test against a big, physical Wales side.
“Man for man they are a very big side and we are going to have to be fairly smart about the way we play,” said Schmidt.
“There are one or two things we will try to implement on Saturday but we’ll have to assess post-match whether they have worked or not.
“We have a six-day turnaround so we trained for an hour on Tuesday, for an hour on Thursday, and we have the captain’s run on Friday.
“The first three days after the Scotland match were largely used for recovery as the match was played at a reasonably high tempo, so we’ve just been keeping a lid on things training-wise.
“I know they’ve been outspoken about some scrum decisions and that’s one of the things they will look to strengthen.”
Ireland: R Kearney; A Trimble, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O’Connell; P O’Mahony, C Henry, J Heaslip.
Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, M Moore, D Tuohy, T O’Donnell, I Boss, P Jackson, F McFadden.
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