Scotland v Ireland, Six Nations Championship, March 14
Kidney makes four changes for Scotland
March 10, 2009
Gordon D'Arcy returns to the Ireland side against Scotland © Getty Images
Ireland boss Declan Kidney has made four changes to his side to face Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday as they aim to keep their Grand Slam dream alive.
Leinster centre Gordon D'Arcy wins his first start since breaking his arm during last year's tournament after being selected to replace Paddy Wallace, partnering Brian O'Driscoll in a familiar midfield.
Munster's Peter Stringer replaces his provincial team-mate Tomas O'Leary at scrum-half, while in the pack in-form No.8 Jamie Heaslip is surprisingly excluded in favour of Munster's Denis Leamy. In the final change, Ulster hooker Rory Best gets the nod ahead of Jerry Flannery. Wallace, O'Leary, Flannery and Heaslip all drop to the bench.
"The four guys who have come in have been doing very well in training and have a done a good job whenever they've come on," said Kidney. "The lads who are out have done nothing wrong. The new guys will bring their own chemistry to the team and have a wealth of experience, which we'll need against Scotland."
O'Driscoll is expecting to be able to click back into action with D'Arcy fairly simply given their extensive knowledge of each other's style.
"I've played many times with Gordon at provincial and Test level," said O'Driscoll. "Whenever a player comes in, you try to forge a partnership with him and we'll try and pick up where we left off. It's tough on Paddy because he's played some good games but Gordon brings a different element and hopefully we'll see that on Saturday.
"He's worked hard to get back in after being injured for so long and has shown huge patience. A lot of the guys would have lost their head after hearing so much bad news. But he looked after himself and now it's paid off, so all credit to him."
The Irish back-line now has a classic look to it, with Stringer and D'Arcy returning alongside O'Gara and O'Driscoll. O'Driscoll paid tribute to the skills of Stringer and believs that he offers something a little different to O'Leary.
"Peter is a slightly different player to Tomas," said O'Driscoll. "Everyone knows he's one of the better passes in world rugby so hopefully that delivery will be as good as we're used to for the best part of 90 Tests.
"It's important that players aren't content with what skills they have, that they're always trying to better themselves. Strings has worked hard on other parts of his game and it's starting to show."
Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, captain), G D'Arcy (Leinster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); R O'Gara (Munster), P Stringer (Munster); M Horan (Munster), R Best (Ulster), J Hayes (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), D Leamy (Munster).
Replacements: J Flannery (Munster), T Court (Ulster), M O'Driscoll (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster), T O'Leary (Munster), P Wallace (Ulster), G Murphy (Leicester
"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