Heaslip could be named captain if O’Connell is also sidelined
IRELAND star Brian O'Driscoll was due to undergo surgery today on the ankle ligament trouble that has sidelined him for his country's autumn Tests.
O'Driscoll, full-back Rob Kearney and hooker Rory Best will all miss forthcoming games against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina because of injuries.
And with lock Paul O'Connell's training currently restricted, it could be that Declan Kidney will require a new skipper for the November 10 appointment with South Africa in Dublin.
“We will assess all that now,” Kidney told www.irishrugby.ie.
“Paul (O'Connell) has his own niggles with his back. He was hoping to get a bit of pitch-time this weekend.
“Captain can be an onerous position. We will let him recover first, we will look after the person first and then see what is right for the team.”
Number eight Jamie Heaslip could emerge as the captaincy favourite if O'Connell is sidelined.
Assessing O'Driscoll's situation, Kidney added: “You just don't hold back on these things. If it (surgery) needs to be done, you get it done, and we are very lucky with the medical back-up that we have.
“He is frustrated. Everybody likes putting on a green jersey, but nobody more than Brian.
“We will miss him - we missed him during the Six Nations last season. That makes it all the more precious when he is around.
“The prognosis for him is eight to 12 weeks. I don't want to put pressure on Brian, but he's usually on the shorter side of that.
“If he manages to get in a few games towards the latter stages of the Heineken Cup (pool stages), and then to be ready for the Six Nations. We wish him well and God speed for a quick recovery.”
New Zealand-born prop Michael Bent, meanwhile, has been drafted straight into Ireland's squad ahead of the autumn series.
Bent, who qualifies for Ireland through his maternal grandmother, could play for Leinster against the Ospreys next Sunday and then be under consideration to face the Springboks six days later.
“He will work with Leinster on Wednesday, come back to Carton House (Ireland's training base) Thursday and Friday, and then a decision will be taken on whether he will have an involvement in Leinster's game on Sunday,” Ireland team manager Michael Kearney said.
“For us, he could play in one or two or all three games in November. It depends on what happens in the next week or two. Declan (Fitzpatrick) has just returned from injury, and we are keeping our options open.”
Bent, 26, has arrived in Ireland after playing for Taranaki in New Zealand's ITM Cup. He also made five Super 15 appearances for the Hurricanes earlier this year.
Kidney added: “It's our job to assemble the best Irish-qualified group together. In fairness to Leinster, they did a lot of groundwork in finding him.