Ireland opt for experience

Eddie O’Sullivan has made four changes to the Irish team that started against Argentina at last year’s World Cup.

Ireland bombed out of the 2007 global competition in the group stages and many changes were expected as a result. However, O’Sullivan and O’Driscoll were retained as coach and captain and the majority of the side find themselves starting the Six Nations.

Girvan Dempsey has moved to fullback with Geordan Murphy shifting to the wing to replace the retired Denis Hickie. Andrew Trimble comes in for Shane Horgan while Eoin Reddan is retained at scrumhalf.

Malcolm O’Kelly is called up for the injured Paul O’Connell, while Rory Best is named at hooker with Jenny Flannery banned for six weeks.

Ireland start their Six Nations campaign against Italy at Croke Park this Saturday.

Ireland – G Dempsey; A Trimble, B O’Driscoll (c), G D’Arcy, G Murphy; R O’Gara, E Reddan; D Leamy, D Wallace,, S Easterby, M O’Kelly, D O’Callaghan, J Hayes, R Best, M Horan.
Subs: B Jackman, T Buckley, M O’Driscoll, J Heaslip, P Stringer, P Wallace, R Kearney.