Kidney ready to stick as D'Arcy and Earls pass fitness tests for England clash
IRELAND are expected to be unchanged from the team that defeated Wales when Declan Kidney today names the team to play England at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
The good news from the Irish camp was that all the injured players who had to receive treatment after the opening-day victory over Wales have fully recovered from their ailments.
Once that fact was established, the composition of the team to play England was beyond doubt.
The uniform excellence of the squad in the defeat of Wales will undoubtedly mean that Kidney will stand by the same selection.
Gordon D'Arcy and Keith Earls had been the biggest concerns as they suffered a dead-leg and a shoulder injury respectively.
Both are understood to have come through fitness tests and will take up their spots in the squad.
Peter O'Mahony has also successfully come through the IRB protocols governing the mild concussion he suffered in Cardiff and will resume his duties in the back-row on Sunday.
The exciting form shown by the recent additions to the side, notably Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo, means the coach will again look to them to augment the attacking potential of Ireland's experienced centres Brian O'Driscoll (right) and D'Arcy.
Ireland, of course, suffered a humbling defeat at England's hands in last year's corresponding fixture at Twickenham when they lost 30-9, but they are boosted this year by an infusion of new blood and the return of the talismanic O'Driscoll.
O'Driscoll missed last year's game because of injury. His presence is a huge fillip this time around, not least because he hasn't been on a losing team to England since 2003.
It's an astonishing statistic, but of the 11 times O'Driscoll has faced England he has been on the winning team eight times and has lost to them on just three occasions – 2000, 2002 and 2003.
This game is being billed as a potential Grand Slam decider as France are already out of the running for the clean sweep after they lost to Italy in last weekend's opening round of matches.
Meanwhile, former England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott insists that Brian O'Driscoll's place on the Lions squad for Australia is still not guaranteed, though he admits it would be impossible to keep him off the plane if he maintains his form.
IRELAND (probable): R Kearney; C Gilroy, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy S Zebo; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; M McCarthy, D Ryan; P O'Mahony, S O'Brien, J Heaslip.