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Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll on the mend and set to be centre stage

Niall Crozier

ALTHOUGH talismanic centre Brian O'Driscoll sat out Ireland's Carton House training session yesterday morning, defence coach Les Kiss insisted there is no danger of him missing Saturday's Six Nations Test against England at Twickenham.

It will be Irish rugby's most capped player's final appearance at the south-west London home of English rugby and with a Triple Crown on offer, soon-to-retire O'Driscoll will not be de-railed by what Kiss called "a slight bug".

"He's going to be fine for Thursday," Kiss said, adding: "Other than that everything else is aok."

Compared to Ireland's vastly experienced back line, England will be fielding veritable rookies. Kiss sees pluses and minuses in that.

"You can look at that inexperience and possibly see opportunities, but the thing that is really supporting England at the moment is that they're organised in terms of how they move around the pitch in terms of their attack and equally so in defence," the former Rugby League wing said.

"There's a number of people who either coached with the Lions or played with the Lions and have a lot of experience in big games and that type of experience will lend well to guys like (Jack) Nowell, Johnny May and (Luther) Burrell."

Warning that the English are more than capable behind the pack and that their backs are learning quickly about international football, Kiss said: "Certainly (they are) young in terms of experience, but they (England) seem to be patient with their development.

"Certainly they're not perfect by any means but they're just guys who are willing to have a go and it seems to me the that the structure and organisation of the English game and how they move around with their attack shape allows those guys to find their strengths in the game.

"Nowell didn't have the best of starts against France but they stuck with him and kept faith with him. They understand those things will happen with young guys, but he (Nowell) has chased his moments and he's created a little bit of magic here and there.

"So it may be looked at as inexperience, but I think there's also a danger from our perspective that they can still do something out of the blue.

"You know, sometimes ignorance is bliss," Kiss warned, going on to explain that knowing what might be coming can sometimes be more of a curse than a blessing.

"You can bog yourself down thinking if you've got 50 Tests and you've got the weight of expectation of a Test match."

* ANTHONY Foley could be confirmed as Munster coach as early as this afternoon after Munster last night added an appearance by chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald to the schedule of today's pre-game press conference.

Bookmakers have suspended betting on the successor to Rob Penney, with the former captain and current forwards coach the leading contender for a promotion to the top job he narrowly missed out on two years ago.

Fitzgerald's attendance is being billed as a "further update on the head coach appointment."

Belfast Telegraph


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