Brian O'Driscoll to start for Ireland against Wales
IRELAND have been boosted by the return from injury of Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney, Sean O'Brien and Rory Best for Saturday's Six Nations opener against Wales.
O'Driscoll's inclusion is a significant lift for Ireland but, for the first time since succeeding Keith Wood as captain in 2004, he will be relieved of the leadership duties following the appointment of No. 8 Jamie Heaslip as skipper.
British & Irish Lions full-back Kearney, meanwhile, forms an exciting back three that features Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo on the wings after the inexperienced duo impressed throughout the autumn.
"It was a tight call because there's so much competition. Fergus McFadden and Keith Earls have been playing well, so it's testament to the way Craig and Simon have been playing that they're selected," said Ireland's head coach Declan Kidney.
Ireland: R Kearney; C Gilroy, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, S Zebo; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross, M McCarthy, D Ryan, P O'Mahony, J Heaslip (capt), S. O'Brien.
Replacements: S Cronin, D Kilcoyne, D Fitzpatrick, D O'Callaghan, C Henry, E Reddan, R O'Gara, K Earls.