Conor Murray gives Mike Brown 'benefit of doubt' over controversial kicking
Conor Murray has admitted that he feared for the worst when England full-back Mike Brown's boot came into contact with his eye area during the recent defeat at Twickenham, but the Ireland scrum-half is willing to give the Harlequins man the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his intentions.
Brown was not punished by the officials or cited for an incident that led to Joe Schmidt calling for the rules around kicking at the ball during rucks to be addressed.
"It was certainly scary, I think I got a bit of a fright when I got up and there was a bit of blood in my eye and I couldn't fully see, but thankfully it was just a cut beside the eye," he said.
"There was a lot of attention drawn to it. These things happen in rugby games. I've seen guys have bad things happen with their eyes, so I was just happy to accept a cut beside my eye and be able to be fit for selection this week.
"It drew a lot of attention and you have to give the player the benefit of the doubt there. It's happened on our side of the ball a few times. You just let the higher powers deal with it. It looks bloodshot, but the vision is perfect."
Murray will face an unfamiliar face at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow after experienced Italy scrum-half Edoardo Gori was ruled out with a rib injury, meaning Guglielmo Palazzani starts.
He'll form one half of a new-look partnership for the Italians whose coach Jacques Brunel has handed Zebre out-half Edoardo Padovani his first start in Dublin ahead of converted Kiwi Kelly Haimona.
Leicester Tigers hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini has a shoulder injury, meaning Davide Giazzon starts in the No 2 jersey as Sergio Parisse draws level with suspended Martin Castrogiovanni as the country's most capped player on 118 caps. George Biagi retains his place in the second-row despite Quintin Geldenhuys' return to fitness.