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Ireland v France, Dublin, August 20
O'Driscoll back to skipper Ireland
ESPNscrum Staff
August 17, 2011

Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll will lead his side in Saturday's clash with France in Dublin.

O'Driscoll will make his first appearance of the summer after recovering from the neck/shoulder injury that forced him to sit out the defeats to Scotland and France. The 32-year-old lines up at outside centre in what is virtually Ireland's strongest XV.

"It's great to be back. It's always difficult sitting out any Test matches. I'm looking forward to the weekend," O'Driscoll said. Gordon D'Arcy joins O'Driscoll in the midfield after completing his recovery from ankle surgery.

With Rob Kearney ruled out for one week because of a groin strain, Felix Jones makes his first start at fullback. Andrew Trimble, who has impressed over the last two weekends, retains his place on the right wing with Keith Earls taking the number 11 jersey.

What appears to be coach Declan Kidney's first choice half-pack pairing of Jonathan Sexton and Tomas O'Leary have been recalled after sitting out the 19-12 defeat by France last Saturday.

In the pack, openside David Wallace makes his first appearance of the summer. Paul O'Connell and Jamie Heaslip will start after coming off the bench in Bordeaux, while the front row of Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross is given another run out.

Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris makes a welcome return to the bench after winning his lengthy battle with a knee problem. And coach Kidney is wary of not rushing his back-row back too soon saying: "Hopefully Stephen will get a run out. He's been going well in training, but we won't push anyone too soon."

O'Driscoll, meanwhile, is looking for a complete team performance on Saturday. "Winning is important but isn't the be all and end all. It's also about getting game time and getting up to speed," he said. "If we didn't win a warm-up game it wouldn't be ideal, but it's not the World Cup right now.

"The World Cup is in three weeks' time. Let's focus on getting the best possible performance. We're going into the game with the attitude of we really want to win this game, so let's see what happens.

"There's definitely an onus on trying to win the game but because some guys will be making their first start, it's essentially about playing your way into the season. We'll try to get the performance that will take care of the result.

"It's about making sure we have the right mentality for the weekend. Our intensity and physicality need to be right."

Elsewhere - Geordan Murphy is nearing his comeback to the national side after being named in an Ireland XV to take on Connacht on Thursday. He will start at fullback in a strong Ireland side which also sees the likes of Leo Cullen, Mick O'Driscoll and Isaac Boss featuring.

Ireland: F Jones (Munster); A Trimble (Ulster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), T O'Leary (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S O'Brien (Leinster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster)

Replacements: J Flannery (Munster), T Court (Ulster), M McCarthy (Connacht), S Ferris (Ulster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster)

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