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Kidney ponders Kearney return

LEINSTER and Ireland fullback Rob Kearney could be back in the frame for next week's Six Nations clash against Wales, giving head coach Declan Kidney a selection headache.

It was initially feared that the Louth native would miss the remainder of the campaign after damaging his medial ligament in his right knee in the defeat by France, but after taking part in a non-contact training session yesterday, Kidney expects him to be available.

In only his second game in five months, Geordan Murphy could hardly have acquitted himself any better against England, but Kearney had started Ireland's previous 10 games at fullback, except for last summer's tour of the Americas.

Kearney's recovery means Kidney will have to decide whether to restore last year's Lion to the No 15 shirt or stick with Murphy.

"The way he trained, certainly," Kidney said when asked whether Kearney could play against Wales. "He went about his business well, but he didn't do any of the contact so we just have to see if there is any reaction."

Aside from several players having minor knocks, Kidney has no other injury worries and, aside from the suspended Jerry Flannery, expects to have a full hand to pick from.

Meanwhile, Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll admitted that the bug he contracted in the run up to the win over England affected him during that game.


"I was happy enough just making the game, a minor achievement in my own head," he wrote on his blog on the IRFU website. "I was thankful to see the rain because it slowed the game down a bit.

"The illness was definitely a distraction and I was grateful to Paul O'Connell and Jamie Heaslip, amongst others, who did most of the talking prior to the match. I think I managed to camouflage the fact that I wasn't feeling great on the pitch reasonably well."