Centre Brian O'Driscoll will win his 80th cap for Ireland this Saturday when he leads the team out to play Italy in Croke Park in the opening game of the 2008 RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Ireland Coach Eddie O'Sullivan has named Geordan Murphy on the left wing, with Ulster's Andrew Trimble named on the right wing. At halfback, Ronan O'Gara will continue his partnership with Eoin Reddan, who was named at scrumhalf to win his 6th cap for Ireland.
In the forwards, Prop John Hayes will also be reaching the landmark of 80 caps for Ireland in a front row that sees the return of Rory Best to the starting line-up. Malcolm O'Kelly also returns to the starting fifteen to extend his Ireland caps record to 92.
The Ireland team to play Italy in the RBS 6 Nations Championship on Saturday, 2nd February 2008 in Croke Park at 14.00hrs is as follows:
As head coach Stuart Lancaster polishes the axe he will soon wield over his World Cup training squad, Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has backed Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie to be given a stay of execution.
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.