The Fiji-born Speight will make his Test debut after a solid performance against the Barbarians in a friendly in London earlier this month.
The 26-year-old qualified for Australian residency in September but was made to wait on a maiden appearance for Australia after a hamstring injury ruled him out of the Rugby Championship.
“Henry has done all the right things to earn his selection, has had an outstanding Super Rugby season and deserves his opportunity to play for Australia,” Cheika said on Thursday.
“He is very passionate about representing Australia and we’re all looking forward to seeing him bring his best attributes to our game.
Cheika also named Matt Toomua to replace Christian Leali’ifano, lock Sam Carter in the place of James Horwill and Luke Jones ahead of Sean McMahon following last weekend’s 29-26 loss to France.
The freshly appointed coach controversially recalled Kurtley Beale to the Wallabies European tour this week and named the the 25-year-old on the 11-man bench after the player was stood down in October for his role in a text messaging scandal involving a team member of staff.
“All our changes will bring a new energy into the team and I know everyone is looking forward to the opportunities our match against Ireland will bring,” Cheika added.
Australia: James Slipper, Saia Fainga’a, Sekope Kepu, Sam Carter, Rob Simmons, Luke Jones, Michael Hooper, Ben McCalman, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Henry Speight, Matt Toomua, Tevita Kuridrani, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau
Reserves: James Hanson, Tetera Faulkner, Benn Robinson, Ben Alexander, James Horwill, Will Skelton, Jake Schatz, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Rob Horne, Kurtley Beale
Photo: Christopher Lee/Getty Images.