Ireland look to keep dream alive
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."
Scotland boss Frank Hadden has recalled Chris Paterson at fullback to face Ireland in the Six Nations at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Paterson, Scotland's most capped player, makes his first start of the tournament and replaces Hugo Southwell in a starting XV that shows one other change with Alasdair Dickinson replacing the injured Allan Jacobsen at loose-head. Jim Hamilton returns in the second-row and partners Jason White, with Glasgow's Ali Kellock dropping out of the 22. Nathan Hines takes a place on the bench after recovering from a knee injury.
"It will be a close call in the second-row but clearly we'll go with the players we believe give us the best chance of creating the sort of platform that we'll need to win against a fine Irish team," said Hadden. "I've been impressed with Chris Paterson's attitude in this Championship. As ever, he's been the model professional, getting on with his job and he deserves the opportunity to start on this occasion."
Mike Blair leads Scotland from scrum-half, with Simon Danielli and the Evans brothers, Max and Thom, looking to continue the exciting form that they exhibited last time out against Italy at Murrayfield.
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
Scotland: Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Thom Evans (Glasgow Warriors), Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Mike Blair (Edinburgh, capt), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Jim Hamilton (Edinburgh), Jason White (Sale Sharks), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Taylor (Stade Francais)
Replacements: Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Nathan Hines (Perpignan), Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), Chris Cusiter (Perpignan), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Hugo Southwell (Edinburgh)