Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

O'Driscoll set for autumn swan song

Brian O'Driscoll has been named in Ireland's squad for the autumn internationals.

Brian O'Driscoll has been named to play in his final autumn international series despite only recently returning to light training after a calf injury.

New Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has included the 34-year-old centre, who is due to retire at the end of the season, for next month's matches against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.

He joins three uncapped players in Ireland's 34-man squad - David Kearney, Jack McGrath and James Coughlan.

Donnacha Ryan (knee) and Iain Henderson (toe) have both been omitted after suffering injuries at the weekend.

O'Driscoll has been sidelined since suffering a calf injury in training with Leinster three weeks ago, which has ruled him out of their opening two Heineken Cup fixtures.

The four-time British and Irish Lion has reportedly been using NASA developed anti-gravity technology to hasten his bid to be fit for at least one last chance to beat the all-conquering All Blacks.

Leinster manager Guy Easterby has described O'Driscoll's recovery as "day-to-day" with hopes he could make a surprise return against Connacht this weekend apparently remote.

New coach Schmidt will have a gap to fill in the lineout following the injuries to Ryan and Henderson.

Stephen Ferris, Richardt Strauss, Tommy O'Donnell, Jordi Murphy and Simon Zebo are also sidelined by injury.

That has created the chance for the new names with Kearney - who was on the bench for Ireland in 2012 - joining his brother Rob amongst the backs.

The other new names Coughlan and McGrath, who has been in good form for Leinster so far this season, will add to the depth in the forwards.

Jonathan Sexton, who plays for French club Racing Metro, is the only overseas-based player selected.

Schmidt revealed he had been left with some "difficult decisions" in naming his squad, which is likely to be trimmed before the opening game against Samoa in Dublin on November 9.

A captain for the series is also set to be named at a later date.

"The squad combines players who have shown form in the domestic season mixed with those who have a proven record at international level," Schmidt said.

"As always there were some very difficult decisions. Some players have had limited opportunity to impress due to injury and others have performed very well and it was difficult to leave them out.

"The Guinness Series will demand plenty from the squad and I know they'll be motivated by the challenge."

Tickets for the November 24 match against the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium have already sold out.

Ireland squad: I Boss (Leinster), T Bowe (Ulster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), R Henshaw (Connacht), P Jackson (Ulster), D Kearney (Leinster), R Kearney (Leinster), I Madigan (Leinster), L Marshall (Ulster), F McFadden (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Racing Metro 92)

S Archer (Munster), R Best (Ulster), J Coughlan (Munster), T Court (Ulster), S Cronin (Leinster), D Fitzpatrick (Ulster), C Healy (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster), C Henry (Ulster), M McCarthy (Leinster), J McGrath (Leinster), K McLaughlin (Leinster), S O'Brien (Leinster), P O'Connell (Munster), P O'Mahony (Munster), M Ross (Leinster), M Sherry (Munster), D Toner (Leinster), D Tuohy (Ulster).

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