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O'Driscoll takes centre stage

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Sonny Bill Williams (centre left) has pinpointed fellow centre Brian O'Driscoll (centre right) as Ireland's dangerman

Sonny Bill Williams (centre left) has pinpointed fellow centre Brian O'Driscoll (centre right) as Ireland's dangerman

Sonny Bill Williams (centre left) has pinpointed fellow centre Brian O'Driscoll (centre right) as Ireland's dangerman

Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss is excited by the prospect of returning captain Brian O'Driscoll taking on New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams.

O'Driscoll, who missed four months of Leinster's season following shoulder surgery before returning for the end of the campaign, is set for his international return in Saturday's first Test. The contest between the established O'Driscoll and the unorthodox Williams, who has shone for the Chiefs in Super Rugby this year, is cause for some excitement.

"You're talking about one of the greatest in Brian coming against one of these guys who is an absolute beast on the field, Sonny Bill," Kiss said. "He (Williams) has been doing fantastic things with the Chiefs this year. So if Sonny gets picked and Brian gets picked then we'll see how that goes."

Williams is desperate to start at Eden Park but was quick to acknowledge that lining up against O'Driscoll would be a serious challenge.

"O'Driscoll is always the danger man. Absolutely. He's done well since he came back (from injury)," said Williams. "It's going to be a tough challenge but hopefully we can play a style of footie that is entertaining but a winning style as well.

"I'm looking forward to it, getting that black jersey back on. But the Irish are playing some good rugby, both Irish teams (Leinster and Ulster) in the Heineken Cup Final."

Ma'a Nonu, another centre hoping to be on duty this weekend, was equally keen to praise 33-year-old O'Driscoll.

"O'Driscoll is going great," he said. "He always turns out. He's such a great player that I admire. I've been watching him for a long time and he always seems to turn up at the right time, especially for Leinster. The older he gets, the better he gets really."

Nonu, who has played Ireland on five occasions and scored two tries against them, has warned they will be desperate to end a losing sequence that means they have not succeeded in the fixture in 24 attempts.

"It is not just another game for them," he said. "I think there are a lot of older players that are looking at it like they won't be coming back to New Zealand again, not for a long time. It's their last trip down here."

PA