Ireland have suffered a blow on the eve of their RBS 6 Nations Championship match against rejuvenated Italy in Rome with the loss of inspirational full-back Girvan Dempsey.
Coach Eddie O'Sullivan was forced into a re-shuffle of his back division after the Leinster player failed a fitness test on a groin strain he first felt in his side's Heineken Cup clash with Bristol last month.
Leicester utility back Geordan Murphy, pencilled in to replace injured winger Shane Horgan, will move to full-back - and Munster's John Kelly will win his eighth cap on the right flank.
"He just didn't make it, but we hope he'll be all right for the French game," said Ireland team manager Brian O'Brien.
Ireland team to play Italy in Rome:
Backs: G Murphy (Leicester); J Kelly (Munster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), K Maggs (Bath), D Hickie (Leinster); D Humphries (Ulster), P Stringer (Munster).
Forwards: R Corrigan (Leinster), S Byrne (Leinster), J Hayes (Munster), G Longwell (Ulster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), V Costello (Leinster), K Gleeson (Leinster), A Foley (Munster).
Replacements: F Sheahan (Munster), M Horan (Munster), L Cullen (Leinster), A Quinlan (Munster), G Easterby (Llanelli), P Burke (Harlequins), R Henderson (Munster).
The 2017 RBS 6 Nations was watched by record numbers of fans
29 March 2017, 12:25pm
After an enthralling RBS 6 Nations Championship of twists, turns, and no small amount of drama on the last day, figures show the RBS 6 Nations is going from strength to strength, year on year, with no sign of slowing down.