Saturday 16 December 2017

Six for the Nations

Ireland face into life without Brian for next year's Six Nations and with so many of the possible replacements comfortable at both inside and outside centre, here's just a selection of the pairings available to Declan Kidney for the spring.

Gordon D'Arcy and Keith Earls

D'Arcy's experience will be an obvious benefit in the absence of O'Driscoll and Earls was given the nod at 13 when O'Driscoll sat out the pool game against Russia at the World Cup, when he notched two tries.

Gordon D'Arcy and Fergus McFadden

Joe Schmidt's pairing of choice for last Friday night's win over Munster in the Pro 12. The fact they are clubmates means they have time to further develop their understanding before the Six Nations kicks off at home to Wales on February 5.

Gordon D'Arcy and Tommy Bowe

Bowe ticks all the boxes as a direct replacement for O'Driscoll. He has operated successfully in the No 13 shirt for the Ospreys and with almost 50 caps under his belt, he has the experience at international level.

The excellent form of the likes of Andrew Trimble means the Monaghan man could be pushed in from his regular spot on the wing.

Paddy Wallace and Gordon D'Arcy

D'Arcy has shown in the past that he is more than comfortable at 13 and Wallace has regularly featured for Ireland under Kidney, usually at inside centre.

Fergus McFadden and Luke Fitzgerald

Another all-Leinster partnership that could develop between now and the Six Nations.

Both men are also inter-changeable, but Fitzgerald didn't make the World Cup squad and needs a return to the form that saw him become a Test Lion in 2009.

Fergus McFadden and Eoin O'Malley

The most left-field of partnerships and the Six Nations is likely to come too soon for the unexposed O'Malley.

However, Joe Schmidt turned to the Belvedere man when O'Driscoll missed the Heineken Cup trip to Clermont last season and he referenced him as an option for O'Driscoll for the trip to Montpellier this weekend.

Irish Independent

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