The player himserlf is optimistic of being fit and he is looking forward to the challenge of leading the side. "It is a daunting task to follow someone like Keith," said O'Driscoll, who burst onto the scene in the 2000 tournament with a hat-trick of tries against France in Paris as Ireland ended a 28-year winless drought in the City of Light, appropriately on St Patrick's Day.
"It is something relatively new to me but obviously not the first time that I have assumed the captaincy as I had an eight to nine game run through the 2002 autumn tests and the Six Nations.
"I hope I can take the responsibility on and enjoy it,"
Coach Eddie O'Sullivan accepts that his star centre is 'relatively inexperienced'.
"He is a rookie at captaincy really," O'Sullivan said. "Lawrence Dallaglio replacing Martin Johnson for England is not the same thing as he has already been there and done that, whereas Brian has captained Ireland but not sufficiently to say he is experienced in it. That said however, I'm confident he will do a good job for us."
O'Sullivan reduced his squad from 34 to 22 yesterday (Thursday), with those players considered surplus to requirement returning to their provinces to prepare for this weekend's Celtic League matches.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the exclusion of Munster flanker David Wallace who has been in outstanding form in recent Heineken Cup games, O'Sullivan citing an 'abundance of riches' reason for the decision.
One player who has benefitted positively from current good form is Leinster Lion Gordon D'Arcy. (pictured). He had been playing extremely well in Celtic League and early Heineken Cup games on the wing but the injury to O'Driscoll saw him move to 13 where he was outstanding in the absence of the Ireland skipper. This gives O'Sullivan further options now with D'Arcy able to cover three backline positions.
Ireland Forwards: Shane Byrne (Leinster - Blackrock College), Reggie Corrigan(Leinster - Greystones), Victor Costello (Leinster - St. Mary'sCollege),Simon Easterby (Llanelli), Anthony Foley (Munster - Shannon), KeithGleeson(Leinster - St. Mary's College), John Hayes (Munster - Shannon),Marcus