Brian O'Driscoll will make his first appearance for Ireland in almost a year, after being named as captain of the Ireland team to play Italy this Saturday in the opening game of the 2006 RBS 6 Nations Championship.
O'Driscoll will be winning his 60th cap, and will be skippering Ireland for the 23rd time. He has previously led Ireland to 17 wins in 22 outings as captain.
Paul O'Connell is also named in the second row after missing the autumn internationals due to a hand injury - he will win his 30th cap on Saturday. O'Connell will be partnered in the second row by Malcolm O'Kelly, who signed a further two-year deal on Monday that will see him play with Ireland and Leinster until the end of the 2007/08 season.
Meanwhile, hooker Jerry Flannery has earned his first start for Ireland and will also be making his 6 Nations debut, alongside his Munster front row colleagues Marcus Horan and John Hayes.
The only uncapped player in the 22 is Wasps scrum half Eoin Reddan, who has been named amongst the replacements.
IRELAND TEAM (v Italy, Lansdowne Road, 1.30pm, Saturday, Feb 4):
Player / Club / Caps:
15. Geordan Murphy (Leicester) 34
14. Shane Horgan (Lansdowne / Leinster) 40
13. Brian O'Driscoll (CAPTAIN) (Blackrock College / Leinster) 59
12. Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne / Leinster) 15
11. Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins / Ulster) 6
10. Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution / Munster) 55
9. Peter Stringer (Shannon / Munster) 61
1. Marcus Horan (Shannon / Munster) 33
2. Jerry Flannery (Shannon / Munster) 1
3. John Hayes (Bruff/ Munster) 57
4. Malcolm O'Kelly (St. Mary's College / Leinster) 75
5. Paul O'Connell (Young Munster / Munster) 29
6. Simon Easterby (Llanelli Scarlets) 44
7. David Wallace (Garryowen / Munster) 22
8. Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution / Munster) 6
16. Rory Best (Belfast Harlequins / Ulster) 2
17. Simon Best (Belfast Harlequins / Ulster) 10
18. Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution / Munster) 19
19. Johnny O'Connor (Wasps) 10
20. Eoin Reddan (Wasps) 0
21. David Humphreys (Dungannon / Ulster) 72
22. Andrew Trimble (Ballymena / Ulster) 2
Not considered due to injury:
Frankie Sheahan (Cork Constitution / Munster)
Alan Quinlan (Shannon / Munster)
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