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O'Driscoll to lead defence of Grand Slam

Ireland coach Declan Kidney will today confirm Brian O'Driscoll's retention as captain ahead of the Grand Slam defence as a mini injury crisis continued to disrupt the squad's preparations ten days before the Six Nations opener against Italy.

However, Ireland manager Paul McNaughton played down the seriousness of the casualty list by confidently declaring that Kidney should have a full deck to deal with for their opening Croke Park joust.

“Several guys weren't able to train this week,” said McNaughton from the squad's Limerick base yesterday, as he announced a 22-man A squad to take on their English Saxons in Bath next Sunday.

“To a certain extent this is a normal state of affairs, especially after weeks five and six of the Heineken Cup. It's one of the reasons we had such an enlarged squad in the first instance.

“I think on Monday we had only one full line-out because there were so many bangs but we are expecting everyone to be fit and available. It's not surprising so many are off their feet, it's happened before.”

Several players sat out training yesterday. Donncha O'Callaghan (knee), Sean Cronin (ankle), Denis Hurley (leg) and Stephen Ferris (shin) were not involved while Ronan O'Gara, Gordon D'Arcy, Jonathan Sexton and Shane Horgan all sat out training,

Meanwhile Danny Grewcock, the England and Bath lock who was sent off against Ulster in Saturday’s Heineken Cup match, will appear before an independent disciplinary hearing in Dublin tomorrow (5pm).

He was red carded in the 32nd minute for stamping on Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris.

Belfast Telegraph


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