Ireland have named an unchanged line-up for Sunday's Six Nations clash with Italy in Rome.
No changes for impressive Ireland
Ireland have named an unchanged line-up for Sunday's Six Nations clash with Italy in Rome. The head coach Declan Kidney has retained the side which registered Ireland's first victory over France for six years with Saturday's 30-21 triumph at Croke Park. Paddy Wallace was thought to be under threat for the inside centre duties from Gordon D'Arcy but Kidney has opted against dropping the Ulster back. D'Arcy marked his Test return from a broken arm which kept him out of the game for 10 months with the crucial final try against Les Bleus after appearing as a substitute for Wallace. Wallace left the pitch in the first half with blood streaming from an eye wound, which required stitches, but has been given the all-clear to face Italy. The Munster hooker Jerry Flannery has recovered from the shoulder 'stinger' that cut short his match 10 minutes into the second half.
Ireland's captain Brian O'Driscoll will earn his 90th cap on Sunday while the prop John Hayes will equal the current Irish record of 91 appearances held by Malcolm O'Kelly, who is on the bench. The odds on Ireland winning their first championship since 1985 shortened significantly in response to their thrilling victory over France. Italy, who were punished for an error-strewn display at Twickenham last weekend with an 36-11 defeat, are not expected to put an early spanner in the works. Ireland's last trip to Rome in 2007 saw them triumph 51-24 but it was a bittersweet experience as they conceded a try on the stroke of full-time that effectively handed France the championship on points difference. *PA Sport
R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, captain), P Wallace (Ulster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); R O'Gara (Munster), T O'Leary (Munster); M Horan (Munster), J Flannery (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: R Best (Ulster), T Court (Ulster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), D Leamy (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), G Murphy (Leicester).