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O'Driscoll fit to face Springboks


Brian O'Driscoll

Brian O'Driscoll

Brian O'Driscoll

Brian O'Driscoll will lead out Ireland in Saturday's autumn opener against South Africa after recovering from his hamstring problem.

O'Driscoll was a doubt because of the injury he sustained on Heineken Cup duty for Leinster against Racing Metro on October 9, but has been passed fit.

The Springboks, Ireland's first Test opponents at the redeveloped Aviva Stadium, will be the Lions centre's first match in four weeks.

Jonathan Sexton has been preferred ahead of Ronan O'Gara at fly-half, forming part of an all-Leinster backline other than Ospreys' Tommy Bowe on the right wing.

Sexton links up with Eoin Reddan at half-back, with Gordon D'Arcy named at inside centre. The three-way race for the left wing has been won by Luke Fitzgerald in what will be his first Test in almost a year.

Munster's David Wallace has held off the challenge of Sean O'Brien to start at openside, with Stephen Ferris and Jamie Heaslip completing the back row. Denis Leamy offers cover from the bench.

Cian Healy has won the battle for the loosehead duties and is joined in the front row by Ulster's Rory Best and Tony Buckley of Munster.

A decision on the final replacement will be made later in the week, with Keith Earls, Andrew Trimble and Paddy Wallace in contention.

Ireland team: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D'Arcy (Leinster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); J Sexton (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), T Buckley (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), M O'Driscoll (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).

Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Court (Ulster), D Ryan (Munster), D Leamy (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), R O'Gara (Munster), P Wallace (Ulster) or A Trimble (Ulster) or K Earls (Munster).