Sunday 17 December 2017

O'Driscoll set for milestone as Kidney names unchanged line-up

Brian O'Driscoll will earn his 100th cap for Ireland on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
Brian O'Driscoll will earn his 100th cap for Ireland on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
Declan Kidney has put faith in the side that started against England at Twickenham last month. Photo: Getty Images

Duncan Bech

Brian O'Driscoll will win his 100th cap for Ireland against Wales at Croke Park on Saturday after Declan Kidney named an unchanged starting line-up for the clash.

The Lions skipper took a blow to the head in the 20-16 victory over England but has been passed fit to lead the defending champions for a 63rd time.

O'Driscoll is the 14th player to join the ranks of rugby's centurions, one match after John Hayes became the first Irishman to reach the landmark.

The 31-year-old said: "At the start you want to get as many caps as possible, but you never look and hope to attain 100.

"I've always approached it like the next game in a green shirt is my last. With that policy you can't go far wrong. And it's not over yet."

Head coach Declan Kidney has decided against making any changes to the starting line-up that edged England in a brutal Test at Twickenham.

Rob Kearney has recovered from the knee injury sustained against France but Kidney has opted to retain Leicester's Geordan Murphy at full-back.

Kearney is included among the substitutes, however, with Andrew Trimble dropping off the bench in the only change to the 22.

Kidney said: "I thought Geordan went well against England to warrant a second go.

"Rob has worked hard to get back but we've decided to go with Geordan."

Number eight Jamie Heaslip incurred an ankle injury against England but has been given the green light to take his place in an all-Lions back row that also features Stephen Ferris and David Wallace.

Jonathan Sexton, who impressed amid pressure-cooker conditions at Twickenham, continues at fly-half with Ronan O'Gara included on the bench.

Ireland have beaten Wales in eight of their last 10 meetings, including last season's 17-15 victory at the Millennium Stadium when they completed the Grand Slam.

They currently sit third in the table, behind leaders France and second-placed England with fixtures against Wales and Scotland to come.

Ireland Team to play Wales :

1 - Cian Healy (Leinster)

2 - Rory Best (Ulster)

3 - John Hayes (Munster)

4 - Donncha O'Callaghan (Munster)

5 - Paul O'Connell (Munster)

6 - Stephen Ferris (Ulster)

7 - David Wallace (Munster)

8 - Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)

9 - Tomas O'Leary (Munster)

10 - Jonathan Sexton (SLeinster)

11 - Keith Earls (Munster)

12 - Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster)

13 - Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster, captain)

14 - Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)

15 - Geordan Murphy (Leicester)


16 - Sean Cronin (Connacht)

17 - Tony Buckley (Munster)

18 - Leo Cullen (Leinster)

19 - Shane Jennings (Leinster)

20 - Eoin Reddan (Leinster)

21 - Ronan O'Gara (Munster)

22 - Robert Kearney (Leinster)

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