O’Driscoll confident he will be ready for Italy
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL expressed full confidence in his ability to pass the cognitive reasoning tests today to prove his fitness for Ireland's final game of the season against Italy on Saturday.
O'Driscoll suffered a concussion injury against France and once he passes the tests this morning – "I am pretty confident I will pass them" – he will be included in the team announced by Declan Kidney at lunchtime.
Jonathan Sexton and Craig Gilroy will also be included after overcoming their hamstring and groin injuries, respectively, but Donncha O'Callaghan is expected to become the latest senior player to be culled by Kidney.
The 94-times capped second-row's place among the replacements is set to be taken by Leinster's Devin Toner.
It is another surprise by Kidney and will hasten speculation that O'Callaghan has played his last game for Ireland.
Kidney has shown no sentiment this season with some of his selection decisions. First he stripped O'Driscoll of the captaincy and will now send O'Callaghan into exile alongside Ronan O'Gara.
It is believed that the preference for Toner is because Donnacha Ryan is not expected to last the full game and Toner will take over the primary line-out duties from him if that change has to happen.
Sexton suffered a grade two tear of his hamstring against England, while Gilroy strained his groin in the loss to Scotland but both came through this week's training stints, showing no ill-effects. O'Driscoll and Luke Marshall have also recovered from the bangs they took in the draw with France last weekend and will be included in the team.
It has been suggested that this will be O'Driscoll's final game in an Ireland shirt, but in an interview on Newstalk last night, the centre again insisted he has not decided either way.
IRELAND (Probable) – R Kearney, C Gilroy, B O'Driscoll, L Marshall, K Earls; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; M McCarthy, D Ryan; P O'Mahony, S O'Brien, J Heaslip. Replacements: S Cronin, D Kilcoyne, S Archer, I Henderson, D Toner, P Jackson, P Marshall, L Fitzgerald.