IRELAND'S backs coach Les Kiss has given the strongest indication yet that Brian O'Driscoll might not be an automatic starter for Ireland against the All Blacks for the three-Test series in June.
He was quick to back the skills of the incumbent 13 Keith Earls following Leinster's defeat of Munster in the PRO12 League on Saturday evening.
"Keith in the past has come under a bit of fire for certain parts of his game but he had a fantastic campaign for us (in the Six Nations) at 13. He was exceptional," said Kiss, on Setanta Sport's iTalkSport yesterday. "He missed the first game but played the rest and was very good. Defensively, last night, I thought Earls had an exceptional game. He didn't have many opportunities with the ball in hand."
Of course, there have been calls for Ireland captain O'Driscoll to move to inside centre to accommodate the wheels of Earls around the outside.
"I thought Drico just had a good, solid game - paced himself well. Not many opportunities but when he did something, it had some impact in the game.
"It's nice to see. It's 80 minutes for Brian, so things are looking good for him after the operation," added Kiss.