Ireland unchanged for Triple Crown bid
March 16, 2010
Gordon D'Arcy will undergo a fitness test © Getty Images
Ireland coach Declan Kidney has named an unchanged side for their Triple Crown bid against Scotland at Croke Park on Saturday.
The game will be Ireland's last at the home of the Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) and could bring a fifth Triple Crown since 2004. Gordon D'Arcy has been retained at inside-centre pending a fitness test on a bruised knee while Leicester fullback Geordan Murphy has again seen off the challenge of Rob Kearney.
Should D'Arcy fail to prove his fitness Paddy Wallace will be promoted from outside the squad in order to partner Brian O'Driscoll in midfield.
Jonathan Sexton starts at fly-half ahead of Ronan O'Gara despite an erratic display from the kicking tee in the victory over Wales while Keith Earls and David Wallace have shaken off calf and eye problems respectively. Loosehead Cian Healy has recovered from a shoulder problem and starts alongside Rory Best and John Hayes in the front-row.
"To me the Triple Crown is huge because in the past I've seen teams that have failed to fulfil themselves," Kidney said. "Coming into the job, people were saying this team is getting old. I thought that if we could be involved in winning anything it would be brilliant.
"It's a romantic ending that couldn't be orchestrated - our last match at Croke Park with a Triple Crown to be won. A genuine sports supporter would never become blasé about winning a Triple Crown. Once we start taking things for granted and being blasé...just look what happened to the economy. The economy took a hit when we were maybe taking things for granted there. We took it for granted, then it was gone. The situation of winning a Triple Crown may also be gone in the future."
Ireland are heavy favourites to complete the Triple Crown but retain little hope of successfully defending their title. Kidney's men need England to win against France in Paris as well as take a hefty bite out of Les Bleus' plus 50 points difference. Defeat for Scotland, meanwhile, would mean the wooden spoon.
Ireland: G Murphy (Leicester); T Bowe (Ospreys), 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), J Hayes (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Buckley (Munster), L Cullen (Leinster), S Jennings (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster), R Kearney (Leinster)
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