10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
Meanwhile, Rory Best emerged from Ulster's league defeat of the Dragons with sprained ligaments in his neck. He is facing a rest and rehabilitation period of up to six weeks before a further assessment is made.
Losing two such high calibre players and team leaders is a massive setback for Ireland ahead of the GUINNESS Series, which kicks off against South Africa on Saturday week.
O'Driscoll joins fellow back Rob Kearney on the injury list, leaving Ireland without their first choice full-back and outside centre.
But Declan Kidney is confident that other players will step up to the mark in the duo's absence, with scope to make further call-ups after this weekend's RaboDirect PRO12 matches.
"Earlsy (Keith Earls) is a good option for us (at full-back), Tommy (Bowe) played there last weekend. Simon Zebo, we know can go in there," explained the Ireland boss.
"With centres there as well, we've Darren Cave and Earlsy. We've good combinations within that and we'll assess it now after the (training) session this evening and see what our best go-forward is.
"There's been a good few lads playing around the provinces. Ian Madigan has certainly been earning his trade there (playing at full-back), Denis Hurley has been doing a superb job with Munster, Felix Jones - it was great to see him back, Robbie Henshaw - so there's a good number of lads. We'll sit down and see what the best options are.
"It might be better with PRO12 matches coming up this weekend just to give them a run at it, to get a bit of match-time under their belts.
"The provinces have been mixing and matching as well, and we'll take a close look and see what happens over the weekend."
Kidney outlined the road ahead for O'Driscoll, who is especially frustrated to miss out on the GUINNESS Series after being sidelined for the Six Nations earlier this year.
"He's going to be operated on tomorrow (Wednesday) with a view to trying to get back in for the Six Nations in the spring.
"You just don't hold back on these things - if it needs to be done, you get it done and we're very lucky with the medical back-up that we have.
"He is frustrated. Everybody likes putting on a green jersey, but nobody more than Brian. We will miss him, we missed him during the Six Nations last season. That makes it all the more precious when he is around."
The Corkman added: "The prognosis for him is eight to 12 weeks. I don't want to put pressure on Brian but he's usually on the shorter side of that.
"If he manages to get in a few games towards the latter stages of the Heineken Cup (pool stages) and then to be ready for the Six Nations…we wish him well and God speed for a quick recovery.
"We wouldn't put anything (definite) out yet. It will take that little bit of time and they'll know more after the surgery. Obviously recuperation varies from player to player."
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