Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Six Nations

Luke Marshall's place looks set to be taken by Gordon D'Arcy

By David Kelly

Ulster's Luke Marshall seems set to miss out when the Ireland team for Saturday's big match against Wales is named today.

Gordon D'Arcy is expected to get the nod ahead of Marshall – alongside Brian O'Driscoll – and, along with the return of skipper Paul O'Connell, these are expected to be the only changes to the team that beat the Scots.

O'Connell and Rob Kearney look set to be passed fit for the Aviva showdown.

The captain, who was ruled out of last weekend's opening-day win with a chest infection, is still being monitored, but it appears likely that he will be named to start alongside Devin Toner in the second row.

Kearney sat out training on Tuesday with a calf injury, but is believed to have overcome the knock.

Fergus McFadden has been pushing hard for selection all week after making an impact off the bench against the Scots, but Ulster's Andrew Trimble's should continue on the right wing, with Dave Kearney expected to hold onto his position on the left.

Up front, Cian Healy should shake off the knock that kept him out of part of training earlier this week to join the battle with Adam Jones alongside Ulsterman Rory Best and Mike Ross.

Joe Schmidt will name his team at 1.30 this afternoon at the squad's base in Maynooth and he will be keeping a close eye on the weather forecast throughout the next 48 hours.

Currently, the outlook is bleak, with the storms that battered the country earlier this week likely to return in time for kick-off.

Given his desire for a precision game plan and the lack of atmosphere at Lansdowne Road for last year's washouts against France and England, Schmidt will be hoping the rainclouds stay away until after full-time.

Yesterday, both O'Driscoll and Warren Gatland made further moves to diffuse any tensions ahead of their first meeting since the Wales coach's decision to drop the former captain from his Lions team to face Australia in the decisive third Test last summer.

"The Welsh fixture, a lot is going to be made of it, but from my point of view, wounds have healed from my own personal disappointment that I had in June, July," O'Driscoll said.

"And obviously I have absolutely no animosity towards Warren, he did what he did for the betterment of the team.

"You get over those things and you move on. We're in a different competition and all I'll be trying to do is get the better of his team."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph