Ireland v England, Dublin, August 27
Ireland without O'Driscoll and O'Brien
August 25, 2011
O'Brien will miss Ireland's game against England © Getty Images
Brian O'Driscoll and Sean O'Brien will miss Ireland's clash with England at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday through injury.
O'Driscoll suffered a 'stinger' to his shoulder in the 26-22 defeat by France in Dublin last weekend and has been omitted as a precautionary measure.
"Brian picked up a knock against France. He's running around outside, but it was prudent to us not to put him into a contact situation on Saturday," said coach Declan Kidney. "He has made good progress, especially over the last 24 hours.
"With the game coming this week and a full tournament coming up, it just wasn't prudent to put him in the mix. I don't have the actual medical term for the injury. He gets stingers around this area (pointing to his shoulder). Sometimes you just need to rest it up and get them out of the system."
Ireland's preparations for the World Cup have also been hit by the loss of O'Brien, their most consistent performer since the start of the Six Nations. The European player of the year sustained a knee problem midway through the second half against Les Bleus, but Kidney is unconcerned by his fitness.
"Sean will be fine, it wasn't prudent to include him this weekend," said Kidney. "But as you can see he's in training already and he'll work his way back in. If he is injured and he is scoring tries at the end of the game we'll take that wouldn't we."
Keith Earls replaces O'Driscoll at outside centre to form a midfield partnership alongside Gordon D'Arcy, with Ronan O'Gara and Eoin Reddan named at half-back. Tommy Bowe makes his first appearance of the summer on the right wing after recovering from a foot problem.
Geordan Murphy starts at fullback after Rob Kearney, who was sidelined last weekend with a groin strain, was ruled out once again.
"Rob was training fully on Monday and Tuesday, but then he pulled up a little bit sore," said Kidney. "It's just better to ease up on him for a couple of days. He will be fine again after this weekend. It's an opportunity to give Geordan a start in another game. At this stage it's all about looking at the part of the glass that is full in terms of giving lads game time."
Hooker Jerry Flannery makes his first start of the summer following three substitute appearances, while there is a summer debut for David Wallace. Flannery and Wallace have been troubled by calf and hamstring strains respectively.
The loss of O'Brien will be keenly felt, but the return of Stephen Ferris at blindside for his first start in eight months is welcome. Ferris, the destructive Ulster back row, has been dogged by a knee problem but came though his final-quarter cameo against France unscathed.
Ireland: Geordan Murphy (Leicester); Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls (Munster), Gordon D'Arcy (/Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster); Ronan O'Gara (Munster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Jerry Flannery (Munster), Mike Ross (Leinster); Donncha O'Callaghan (Munster), Paul O'Connell (capt, Munster); Stephen Ferris (Ulster), David Wallace (Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)
Replacements: Rory Best (Ulster), Tom Court (Ulster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Denis Leamy (Munster), Conor Murray (Munster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster)
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"The fans could not be happier with the opposition and it adds an exciting element to a game that is shaping up as a thriller." Ben Kay previews the Premiership final showdown
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel