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