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Brian O'Driscoll passed fit to face South Africa

Ireland v South Africa
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday 6 November Kick-off: 1730 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC Two, BBC Sport website, Radio 5 live sports extra and BBC Radio Ulster MW; text commentary on BBC Sport website

South Africa's Danie Rossouw tackles Brian O'Driscoll 12 months ago
Brian O'Driscoll in action against South Africa at Croke Park last November

Brian O'Driscoll has been passed fit to start for Ireland in Saturday's opening autumn Test against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium.

O'Driscoll has recovered from a hamstring injury and will be partnered at centre by Gordon D'Arcy.

Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan are the half-backs with Luke Fitzgerald handed one of the wing berths.

Cian Healy edges out Tom Court for loose-head prop which leaves Rory Best and Stephen Ferris as Ulster starters.

Sexton hit all Ireland's points in last November's 15-10 win over the world champions at Croke Park and the Leinster fly-half holds off the claims of Ronan O'Gara for the number 10 shirt.

Tomas O'Leary's unavailability because of injury opens the door to Reddan with Peter Stringer named on the bench.

Best starts at hooker having missed Ireland's summer tour of Australia and New Zealand.


Tony Buckley completes the Irish front row alongside Best and Healy with Ulster's Court having to be content with a place on the bench.

Buckley's inclusion at tight-head and Court's presence on the bench means John Hayes has been overlooked for a squad on selection alone for the first time in a decade.

Despite Hayes' omission, Ireland coach Declan Kidney insisted that the veteran's international is not over.

"Not at all is it the end for John, definitely not," said Kidney.

"It hasn't been easy to leave guys out but that's my job.

"There are guys who will continue to give Ireland great service over the next 12 months.

"Tom Court has been playing 80 minutes recently and the advantage for him is that he's the one prop who has had time on both sides of the scrum."

Ferris holds off a challenge from Denis Leamy to start in the back row with David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip.

Fitzgerald will be making his first international start in a year after sustaining a serious knee injury against Australia 12 months ago.

We've enjoyed our time at Croke Park but now we want to make some memories at the new stadium

Brian O'Driscoll

Tommy Bowe and Rob Kearney complete the Irish back three with Ulster players Andrew Trimble and Paddy Wallace included in an extended replacements list because of continuing fitness doubts over Keith Earls.

With Paul O'Connell ruled out by injury, Mick O'Driscoll will partner Donncha O'Callaghan in the second row.

O'Driscoll has been not played since suffering a hamstring pull in a Heineken Cup game on 9 October but he came through training sessions unscathed on Monday and Tuesday.

The Ireland captain said he was looking forward to Ireland playing at Lansdowne Road again.

"There were no issues today - I trained fully with the squad. Fingers crossed it stays that way," said O'Driscoll.

"We've enjoyed our time at Croke Park but now we want to make some memories at the new stadium.

"It would have been disappointing to miss the first game at the new Aviva."

Ireland will be hoping to avoid a fourth successive Test defeat in Saturday's game - a losing sequence dating back to the final match of the Six Nations against Scotland.

Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, E Reddan; C Healy, R Best, T Buckley; D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll; S Ferris, D Wallace, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, T Court, D Ryan, D Leamy, P Stringer, R O'Gara, K Earls or A Trimble or P Wallace.

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see also
De Villiers fit to face Ireland
05 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
O'Driscoll could still face Boks
28 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union
Fitzgerald added to Ireland squad
25 Oct 10 |  Irish
Horan ruled out of autumn matches
21 Oct 10 |  Irish
Injured duo may join Irish squad
19 Oct 10 |  Irish
Ireland 15-10 South Africa
28 Nov 09 |  Irish

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