O'Gara back for Ireland against Italy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

O'Gara back for Ireland against Italy

03/02/2010 07:16:11 AM Comments (0)

Ireland will kick off their defence of their Grand Slam title with Ronan O'Gara pulling the strings at flyhalf after Jonathan Sexton was ruled out of Saturday's Six Nations opener against Italy.

Sexton had been tipped to start the tournament after kicking all of Ireland's points in their 15-10 win over world champions South Africa in November.

But the Leinster star has suffered a dead leg injury, prompting head coach Declan Kidney to recall Ireland's record points scorer O'Gara to his starting line-up with Paddy Wallace providing specialist cover on the bench.

Leinster back row Kevin McLaughlin will make his Ireland debut at blindside flanker after Kidney decided not to risk Stephen Ferris, who should have recovered for a knee injury in time for Ireland's second match, against tournament favourites France.

Ulster's Andrew Trimble makes his first international appearance since March 2008 after being preferred to Keith Earls on the left wing.

Gordon D'Arcy once again teams up with skipper Brian O'Driscoll in the Irish midfield having displaced Wallace from the inside centre berth.

Munster front row Jerry Flannery is given the nod at hooker, despite having played no provincial rugby since recovering from the Achilles injury that has kept him out for the last two months.

O'Driscoll and Donncha O'Callaghan are both carrying minor knocks but they were not deemed sufficiently serious for either man to be left out.

Ireland (15-1): Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll (capt.), Gordan D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble; Ronan O'Gara, Tomas O'Leary; Jamie Heaslip, David Wallace, Kevin McLaughlin, Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan, John Hayes, Jerry Flannery, Cian Healy.

Replacements: Rory Best, Tom Court, Leo Cullen, Sean O'Brien, Eoin Reddan, Paddy Wallace, Keith Earls.

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