The fit-again Brian O’Driscoll has been named at centre in the Ireland team to play Namibia in Sunday’s World Cup Pool D encounter in Bordeaux.
O’Driscoll has recovered on schedule from his fractured sinus and has been given the all clear following a scan on the injury.
Commenting on his selection, the Ireland captain, who will be leading Ireland for the 39th time in his career, said: “I am delighted to get myself back on the field, especially to lead the team out in the first game in the tournament. The injury has healed very well over the last number of weeks and right on schedule, so myself and the rest of the squad can concentrate on this weekend’s game.
“Namibia were difficult opponents in our group in the last World Cup, so we don’t expect anything different this time round. As a team we will want to put in a performance to allow us to grow in confidence for the rest of our group fixtures.”
O’Driscoll will be leading a strong Ireland selection for the game that includes flanker David Wallace, who returns to the side after recovering from a niggling ankle injury. He will be joined by Simon Easterby and Denis Leamy in the back row. In the backs, Andrew Trimble moves from the centre, where he played against Italy, to the right wing in a back three that includes Denis Hickie and Girvan Dempsey.
Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan said: “Brian has recovered well after his injury and was keen to get as many games under his belt from the start of the tournament, so it is a great boost for us to have him back and in the team. After the great reception we received on our arrival at the airport last night, the whole squad realise that we are now finally here in the Rugby World Cup and we have to hit the ground running against Namibia.
“We expect Namibia to throw everything at us and we are under no illusion that it will be a tough day at the office. It is also the first game for them and they will have targeted this for a big performance, so this will not be as easy as many people outside of the Ireland squad expect.”
IRELAND TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v Namibia, Stade Chaban Delmas, Bordeaux, Sunday, September 9, 2007, 8pm local time):
15 – Girvan Dempsey (Terenure College/Leinster)
14 – Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
13 – Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) captain
12 – Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
11 – Denis Hickie (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
10 – Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
9 – Peter Stringer (Shannon/Munster)
1 – Marcus Horan (Shannon/Munster)
2 – Rory Best (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
3 – John Hayes (Bruff/Munster)
4 – Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
5 – Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster)
6 – Simon Easterby (Llanelli)
7 – David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster)
8 – Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
16 – Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
17 – Simon Best (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
18 – Malcolm O’Kelly (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
19 – Neil Best (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
20 – Isaac Boss (Ballymena/Ulster)
21 – Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)
22 – Geordan Murphy (Leicester)