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Six Nations
Ireland set to unveil BOD replacement
ESPNscrum Staff
February 1, 2012
Ireland's Keith Earls spots a gap, England v Ireland, Six Nations, Twickenham, England, February 27, 2010
Keith Earls is one candidate to step into the void left by Brian O'Driscoll © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Declan Kidney | Brian O'Driscoll
Tournaments/Tours: Six Nations
Teams: Ireland

Ireland name the squad for their Six Nations opener against Wales on Wednesday and all eyes will be on who Declan Kidney has backed to fill the void left by the talismanic Brian O'Driscoll.

O'Driscoll has been ruled out of the entire championship after undergoing shoulder surgery, leaving a void in the position he has filled with such distinction since 2009. Coach Kidney last week stated his replacement would be one of Keith Earls, Fergus McFadden, Tommy Bowe or Andrew Trimble.

Mark Tainton, Ireland's kicking coach who alongside Les Kiss has taken on greater responsibility for the backs, insists the chosen player should not be over-awed by the jersey. "We've been looking at combinations and have a pretty good idea of who'll be starting at 13," Tainton said. "Whoever is named at 13 for Sunday will obviously be playing on merit. He just needs that total belief in his ability to fill that role.

"Whoever it may be will have been playing in that position for his province or club this season and shouldn't do anything different to what he's been doing. He doesn't need to try and be something he isn't."

Jonathan Sexton and Ronan O'Gara are competing for the fly-half duties after impressing for their provinces in this season's Heineken Cup. It is Sexton, however, who appears to have crept ahead with his greater versatility and youth nudging out the player who started last autumn's World Cup quarter-final defeat by Wales.

"Jonathan and Ronan are playing very well for their provinces and we're in the lucky position of having two 10s who are operating at the top of their games," Tainton said. "Whoever gets the 10 jersey, I'm sure they'll do well."

There could also be a change in the second row where Donnacha Ryan may replace Donncha O'Callaghan. Luke Fitzgerald has an outside chance of being available for the second match of the campaign against France.

Fitzgerald was omitted from the 32-man squad named ahead of Sunday's opener against Wales in Dublin as he continues his rehabilitation from a neck injury. But 24-year-old Leinster winger is expected to be available for selection within one to two weeks.

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