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Darren Cave can now be relied on to fill Brian O'Driscoll void, says Kiss

By David Kelly

Year zero, life after BOD began on Saturday and the journey into the unknown is being navigated by a select few.

At Leinster, Matt O'Connor wants to go global in search of a superstar to fill Brian O'Driscoll's boots, but the Irish selectors have no such option – even though Jared Payne's impending Irishness is timely.

While there should be a queue forming, instead the contenders are dropping like flies. Robbie Henshaw's hand, Keith Earls' stomach, Payne not being quite here long enough to qualify; it all opens the door for a player who has been knocking for some time.

Darren Cave must wonder if anyone has been listening, but now he looks likely to finally get a chance to prove to Joe Schmidt and Les Kiss that he is the man.

"There is a lot of interest around that berth now and the only thing I can really say for certain is that it is not going to be a Brian O'Driscoll, it will be whatever person puts his hand up and takes the opportunity. Hopefully he will make that place his own," Kiss said yesterday.

"For us as coaches (we need) to see if they can fill that jersey and do it justice at international level. There are names on the table, but it is not something that we expect we will find out straight away.

"Not only have we got these two Test matches but we have a series in November, and that will inform us a little bit more.

"But I think it is important in our approach that we are not trying to replace Brian but find that 13 that fits what we're about."

Kiss has been part of the management set-up for Cave's five Ireland caps, all of which were won on summer tours. And the defence coach says the centre now has an opportunity to stake a claim on a permanent basis.

"Darren is reliable, a big durable lad who can keep going. He is ambitious, he wants to get that opportunity and you'd have to say there's something there for him now," the Australian said.

"He has played 12 very well recently for Ulster and showed versatility.

"It is up to him, we are very adamant that if someone puts their hand up and nails the types of things we are looking for in a No 13's game then that's the way it will be. He may have first dibs at it now."

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