Six Nations

Ireland record awaits BOD

2014-01-31 17:33
Brian O'Driscoll (File)

London - Brian O'Driscoll is set to become Ireland's most-capped player after being named Friday in the side to play Scotland in their Six Nations opener at Dublin's Lansdowne Road on Sunday.

The veteran centre, who is in his final season before retirement, will win his 129th Ireland cap when he takes the field and so break the national record he currently shares with former fly-half Ronan O'Gara.

But he will have an unfamiliar partner alongside him in midfield with Ulster centre Luke Marshall, capped just four times, included after 75-cap centre Gordon D'Arcy failed to recover in time from a stomach illness suffered during the week.

But Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is in no doubt of Marshall's quality after seeing the 22-year-old star in Ulster's first perfect European Cup group stage run this season, which included a win away to French side Montpellier and a 'double' over English giants Leicester.

Marshall had previously caught former Leinster coach Schmidt's eye while playing for Ireland in their shock 12-8 defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield last year.

"Gordon's stomach bug was the sole selection criteria, really," Schmidt told a news conference at the Ireland squad's training camp near Dublin.

"Luke Marshall has played really well in the Heineken (European) Cup in big games.

"He played in the Six Nations last year and played very well against Scotland.

"I thought he played well against Australia in the autumn too. He made a defensive error at one stage, but he's learning all the time. He's working hard at everything we're trying to do.

And Schmidt said there was no better position for a young back making his way in Test rugby than between two British and Irish Lions in fly-half Jonathan Sexton and O'Driscoll.

"He (Marshall) is between Johnny Sexton and Brian O'Driscoll, so experience-wise, he's a bit inexperienced but either side of him he has two players who can help him navigate his way through the game."

Elsewhere in the backs, wing Dave Kearney makes his first Six Nations start with older brother Rob alongside him at full-back.

And Luke Fitzgerald's hip injury has led to a recall for Ulster wing Andrew Trimble.

In the pack, Chris Henry replaces Sean O'Brien after the Leinster openside flanker was ruled out for four months following shoulder surgery.

Sunday's match will be Ireland's first in the Six Nations under Schmidt and their first since a heartbreaking 24-22 defeat by his native New Zealand in Dublin in November.

This Six Nations sees Ireland with just a six-day turnaround between thir first two matches, with defending champions Wales due in Dublin on February 8.

Teams:

Ireland:

15 Rob Kearney, 14 David Kearney, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5Paul O'Connell (captain), 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy

Substitutes: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Dan Tuohy, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Fergus McFadden

Scotland:

15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 David Denton, 7 Kelly Brown (captain), 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Moray Low, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant

Substitutes: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Johnnie Beattie, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Matt Scott, 23 Max Evans

Read more on:    six nations  |  brian o'driscoll  |  rugby
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