Brian O’Driscoll’s Wolfhounds date
Ireland regulars set for 'A' team duty in bid to get vital game time
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL is expected to be named in the Ireland Wolfhounds side to face an England Saxons side in Galway on Friday week, January 25.
The Ireland captain will be named in the Ireland 'A' side for the first time in his illustrious career to facilitate his getting some much-needed game time ahead of Ireland's opening Six Nations game against Wales in Cardiff on February 2.
And O'Driscoll, who has 120 caps for his country, can expect to be in good company in Galway, with Rob Kearney, Luke Fitzgerald and Sean O'Brien also expected to be included. All four are short of match practice this season.
Ireland coach Declan Kidney will use the game to ease the quartet back into the international fold, while also using the game as a final trial for a number of players ahead of the clash against Wales.
Ronan O'Gara will be included in the squad as one of the four out-halves Kidney will name when he announces his extended Six Nations panel this morning.
O'Gara faces a disciplinary hearing in Dublin today and a possible 12-week ban but, in what can only be construed as a positive endorsement, the Ireland coach will include him in his plans for the tournament. Jonathan Sexton, Paddy Jackson and Ian Keatley are the other out-halves that will be named on the panel.
He is scheduled to appear before Justice Jeff Blackett at the ERC headquarters on St Stephen's Green when the ERC will present their case against the 126-times capped international.
O'Gara will be given a chance to argue his case and will emphasise his exemplary disciplinary record over his 15 years of Heineken Cup involvement. For a player who has been so ruthlessly targeted over the years, it is a credit to him that he has been sin-binned just three times in his career and has never previously been cited or received a red card.
A ruling will be made soon after the hearing concludes.
Munster forwards coach Anthony Foley said the uncertainty of O'Gara's availability for Sunday's Heineken Cup game against Racing Metro had not disrupted their preparations this week.
"It's the same thing when you have an injured player," said Foley. "You give him until the last moment to prove himself. We will soon know the situation with Ronan and we will adjust then."
It is customary for the team to be announced at the squad's first collective get-together of the week, which was yesterday, but Munster's management delayed this until after today's hearing and instead named a squad. The team will be finalised at lunchtime tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Foley is also expected to reprise his role as acting defensive coach in the Ireland set-up. Foley was drafted into the coaching set-up during the November Internationals and will also be drafted in as back-up to Les Kiss for the Six Nations.
Leinster's scrum coach Greg Feek will also be deployed in a similar capacity as a designated front-row coach alongside Gert Smal.