But with Leinster No.10 Sexton only recently recovered from a broken jaw, Irish coach Declan Kidney as opted to start with O'Gara.
Elsewhere, Connacht forwards Sean Cronin and John Muldoon have both been selected to start against the All Blacks.
Hooker Cronin wins his place due the absence of Rory Best and Jerry Flannery while Mulhoon will slot in at blindside alongside David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip in the back row.
Ireland: Rob Kearney (Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster); Ronan O'Gara (Munster), Tomas O'Leary (Munster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Sean Cronin (Connacht), John Hayes (Munster), Donncha O'Callaghan (Munster), Mick O'Driscoll (Munster), John Muldoon (Connacht), David Wallace (Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: John Fogarty (Leinster), Tony Buckley (Munster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster), Shane Jennings (Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Geordan Murphy (Leicester).