O’Driscoll fighting fit to face Boks
IRELAND are confident Brian O'Driscoll will be "fit and strong" to line out against South Africa when Declan Kidney's side open their November International campaign on Saturday.
The Ireland captain had a limited run-out yesterday but is due to take a full part in today's training and if he comes through that session he is expected to be cleared to face the world champions at Lansdowne Road.
O'Driscoll has not played since damaging his hamstring in Leinster's win over Racing Metro on October 9 and if he plays on Saturday it would be his first game in four weeks. However, his presence would be a huge boost to Ireland, who had more good news yesterday when Munster's Keith Earls was given the all-clear.
Leinster trio Shane Horgan, Mike Ross and Isaac Boss, along with Connacht's Brett Wilkinson and Munster's Damien Varley, have been released and team manager Paul McNaughton was confident about the well-being of the remaining 30 ahead of today's team announcement.
"Largely everyone is primarily fit to go," said McNaughton. "We expect Brian to be fit and strong. We are optimistic that everyone in the 30 should be training fully."
South Africa, already without a host of big names for their Grand Slam tour, were hit with more bad news yesterday with the confirmation that Schalk Burger, Juan De Jongh and Ricky Januarie have been ruled out.
There are a number of hotly contested spots on the Ireland team, with Cian Healy and Tom Court battling for the loose-head jersey, Denis Leamy pushing Stephen Ferris hard for the blindside flanker's spot and Sean Cronin looking to hold onto the No 2 berth he filled in Ireland's last Test against Australia in June ahead of Ulster's Rory Best.
IRELAND (possible) -- R Kearney; T Bowe, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, E Reddan; C Healy, R Best, T Buckley; D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll; S Ferris, D Wallace, J Heaslip.