Ireland skipper Brian O’Driscoll faces a late fitness test ahead of his club Leinster’s Celtic League clash with Newport Gwent Dragons on Sunday.
O’Driscoll, tipped by many to be captain of the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand, will be aiming to get Ireland’s quest for the Six Nations title off to a winning start when they travel to face Italy next Sunday.
The centre is one of no fewer than 11 Leinster players called up by Eddie O’Sullivan that could feature against the Dragons, and the Ireland coach will be hoping his key players emerge unscathed from the Celtic League encounter.
Shane Byrne, Reggie Corrigan, Leo Cullen, Gordon D’Arcy, Girvan Dempsey, Guy Easterby, Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie, Eric Miller and Malcolm O’Kelly are all expected to feature against the defending Celtic League champions.
Victor Costello is benched, having captained the side against Borders last week.