Ireland team to be named at lunchtime

Brian O’ Driscoll will need to pass a cognitive test if he is to play against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

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Declan Kidney hopes to name the Leinster centre in the starting XV for the Italian game, when he names his team at lunchtime on Thursday. However, O’ Driscoll’s inclusion is a doubt as he attempt to shake off the effects of a concussion suffered in the 13-13 draw with France last weekend.

Many expect the game in Rome to be O’ Driscoll’s last for Ireland, with his contract set to expire this summer. However, O’ Driscoll has been tight-lipped about his future.

“It’s the same as always, I’m just going to wait until the end of the season and see how it feels.” O’ Driscoll told Newstalk’s Off The Ball. “I’ll make the decision when the time is right.”

Declan Kidney could also be without the services of Donnacha Ryan, with the second row still suffering from a shoulder injury. Donncha O’ Callaghan is expected to replace Ryan if the Munster man cannot pass a fitness test.

Paddy Jackson is expected to drop to the bench, following a two-game stint as Jonathan Sexton’s stand-in, with the latter making a full recovery from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the Scotland and France games.

Ulster wing Craig Gilroy should return to the starting XV following his groin injury, with Fergus McFadden returning to the bench.

“I had been afraid I would miss the game altogether.” said the Ulster star. “But I worked hard over the last week and a half and did a lot of rehab and a lot of work with the physios.

“I’m buzzing now. I’m ready to get back playing. I’d love to be involved at the weekend.”

Ireland play Italy in Rome on Saturday. Defeat for either side could see them finish bottom of the Six Nation table and receive the dreaded wooden spoon.


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