Friday 24 November 2017

O’Driscoll calms illness fears after missing training

Hugh Farrelly

IRELAND suffered a late scare over the availability of Brian O'Driscoll for today's Six Nations showdown with England at Twickenham after the team captain missed yesterday's Captain's Run and subsequent press conference.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney explained the centre was "feeling a bit rough" and said he was quite hopeful his captain and flanker Stephen Ferris, who also missed yesterday's run-out, would be good to go come kick-off this afternoon.

And, amid the reports he was suffering from a stomach bug, O'Driscoll provided further reassurance later when he announced to his 4,000-plus followers on Twitter that "I'll be fine".

"He was feeling a bit rough," said Kidney, "it was just prudent for him not to train. He was just feeling a bit off, there was no point in pushing it. The Captain's Run is just about blowing off a few cobwebs."

England winger Mark Cueto was struck down with a bug this week before being cleared yesterday to play and Kidney said there was no concern of any kind of stomach virus in the Irish camp. "We'd be quite hopeful he will be okay," said the Irish coach. "They'll go to bed thinking about having a grand sleep and waking up looking forward to the game, that's what the medics would give me too."

If O'Driscoll is ruled out, Keith Earls will switch to outside centre with Andrew Trimble coming onto the left wing. Utility back Paddy Wallace and flanker Kevin McLaughlin travelled over with the team and would come into the equation if either O'Driscoll or Ferris are unavailable.

England manager Martin Johnson is banking on his side following the French template when they attempt to down the Grand Slam champions today. France hammered Ireland 33-10 in Paris a fortnight ago and Johnson says Marc Lievremont's men have shown England the way.

"France got a huge tempo in the game (against Ireland) and they managed to keep that tempo in their attack," said Johnson. "If we can get quick ball there will be chances to attack. The breakdown will be key. Their back-five forwards are all Lions from the last tour. They are very strong in that area."

England go into the game boosted by wins over Wales and Italy and Johnson believes they are ready to lay down a marker against Ireland.

"This is the sort of game you get involved in rugby to play in," said Johnson. "There will be a full house at Twickenham, the Grand Slam champions are coming and we have a chance to try and beat them. Ireland at home after two wins, it comes at a good time for us."

Irish Independent

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