Kidney keeps the faith
February 21, 2012
Jonathan Sexton has been passed fit and starts at fly-half © PA Photos
Declan Kidney has stuck with the same side that was due to take to the field against France ahead of their showdown with Italy on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Jonathan Sexton has made a full recovery from the thigh muscle injury sustained before the postponed match against France and starts at fly-half. The fixture launches a gruelling schedule of four games in as many weeks as Ireland suffer the consequences of the aborted showdown at the Stade de France 10 days ago.
Once Italy have been negotiated, they must relocate to Paris on March 4 before preparing for a six-day turnaround to face Scotland. They conclude their championship against England at Twickenham on March 17.
"We were tempted to make changes to the team. We had a long discussion about it," coach Kidney said. "But this team was good enough to play France so it's good enough to play against Italy as well.
"We need to approach this game by game, rather than as a block of four fixtures, and that's what we're doing."
Ireland have lost their last three matches at the Aviva Stadium but have never succumbed to Italy in the Six Nations. However, last season they required a last-gasp drop-goal from Ronan O'Gara to escape the Stadio Flaminio with a 13-11 victory.
Italy have lost their opening two matches of the championship, away to France and at home to England.
Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Gordon D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Donnacha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell (c), Stephen Ferris, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Tom Court, Donnacha Ryan, Peter O'Mahony, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O'Gara, Fergus McFadden
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
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