O'Driscoll fit for duty; Sexton out
Brian O'Driscoll was named Thursday in the Ireland side to take on Italy in their Six Nations closer in Rome on Saturday .
Brian O'Driscoll was named Thursday in the Ireland side to take on Italy in their Six Nations closer in Rome on Saturday in what could be his final match in the tournament.
O'Driscoll, along with centre partner Luke Marshall, was concussed during last weekend's 13-13 draw with France, but both players have been passed fit.
The former skipper has struggled with injuries over the last three years and there have been reports in the Irish media that he is set to announce his retirement from international rugby at the age of 34.
However, Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton has been ruled out of the game.
Sexton, who had recovered from the hamstring injury that had kept him out and of the games against Scotland and France, was named in the starting XV earlier Thursday, went over on his foot in training.
A scan has confirmed that he has torn a tendon in his left foot and is therefore ruled out this weekend.
Paddy Jackson will start the game, earning his third cap.
Ian Madigan, who made his debut against France last weekend, comes in to the replacements.
Craig Gilroy returns on the right wing after overcoming a groin strain, replacing rib-fracture victim Fergus McFadden.
The pack is unchanged from the team that started against France with lock Donnacha Ryan being passed fit after sustaining a shoulder injury in that game.
Ireland have never lost to Italy in the Six Nations with their last defeat to the Azzurri coming in 1997 before they joined the tournament.
Victory in Rome, combined with France defeating Scotland in Paris, would give the Irish third-place - a reasonable return given the number of injuries they have endured in the championship.
But defeat, combined with a French win, would thrust them into contention for the wooden spoon.
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Peter O'Mahoney, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Mike McCarthy, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Iain Henderson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Luke Fitzgerald.
Date: Saturday, March 16
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 15.30 (14.30 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)