Rugby

O'Driscoll fit to lead Ireland

2010-11-02 17:30
Brian O'Driscoll (AFP)

Dublin - Skipper Brian O'Driscoll has been cleared to play for Ireland on Saturday in the Test match against world champions South Africa.

O'Driscoll was a doubt because of the hamstring injury he sustained on European Cup duty for Leinster against Racing Metro on October 9 but has been passed fit. It will be his first match in four weeks.

"I feel good and I'm looking forward to the team coming back to what is essentially our home," said O'Driscoll.

"We've enjoyed our time at Croke Park but now we want to make some memories at the new stadium.

"It would have been disappointing to miss the first game at the new Aviva so I'm looking forward to playing."

Jonathan Sexton has been given the start ahead of Ronan O'Gara at fly-half, forming part of an all-Leinster backline other than Osprey Tommy Bowe on the right wing.

Sexton links-up with Eoin Reddan at half-back with Gordon D'Arcy named at inside centre.

The race for the left wing has been won by Luke Fitzgerald in what will be his first Test in almost a year.

Munster's David Wallace has held off the challenge of Sean O'Brien to start at openside with Stephen Ferris and Jamie Heaslip completing the back row. Denis Leamy offers cover from the bench.

Cian Healy has won the battle for the loosehead duties and is joined in the front row by Ulster's Rory Best and Tony Buckley of Munster.

A decision on the final replacement will be made later in the week with Keith Earls, Andrew Trimble and Paddy Wallace in contention.

Ireland will be hoping to avoid a fourth successive Test defeat when they meet South Africa, a losing sequence dating back to the final match of the Six Nations.

Ireland (15-1):

Rob Kearney (Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster); Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster); Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), David Wallace (Munster), Stephen Ferris (Ulster); Mick O'Driscoll (Munster), Donncha O'Callaghan (Munster); Tony Buckley (Munster), Rory Best (Ulster), Cian Healy (Leinster).

Replacements: Sean Cronin (Connacht), Tom Court (Ulster), Donncha Ryan (Munster), Denis Leamy (Munster), Peter Stringer (Munster), Ronan O'Gara (Munster), Paddy Wallace (Ulster) or Andrew Trimble (Ulster) or Keith Earls (Munster).

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