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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 13:27 GMT
Humphreys retains fly-half spot
Humphreys contributed 26 points against Scotland
Humphreys contributed 26 points against Scotland
David Humphreys has retained the Ireland number 10 jersey for Saturday's RBS Six Nations game against Italy after Ronan O'Gara was again ruled out by injury.

Following his heroics at Murrayfield at the weekend, Humphreys again features in a side that shows one change from the one which dumped Scotland.

Geordan Murphy is named on the right wing for Shane Horgan, who pulled out earlier in the week with a thigh injury.

However, there still remains a major doubt over the fitness of full-back Girvan Dempsey, who exacerbated a groin problem on Monday and sat out training the following day.

If Dempsey is forced out, then Murphy will move to full-back, where he has starred for Leicester this season, and Munster's John Kelly will come on to the left wing.

Kelly, who will travel with the squad, scored two tries on his debut against the Azzurri last season at Lansdowne Road.

Italy have a good defence and their discipline has improved immeasurably
Irish coach
Eddie O'Sullivan

O'Gara had been tipped to replace Humphreys, who contributed 26 points in the emphatic win over Scotland at Murrayfield.

But the Munsterman's ankle problems flared up after training on Monday and a specialist advised he took a further break.

Harlequins fly-half Paul Burke has again been called up to the bench.

Coach Eddie O'Sullivan said that he was prepared for a tough challenge in Rome.

''Italy looked very well organised,'' he said. ''I don't believe they will be the walk-overs this season as everyone has predicted.

''They have a good defence, their discipline has improved immeasurably, and they have some very big and powerful runners.

''The fact that they can afford to put flanker Mauro Bergamasco on the wing says a lot about their back-row.

''It will take us to continue the intensity of our play that was shown against Scotland.''

Ireland: G Dempsey or G Murphy; G Murphy or J Kelly, B O'Driscoll (capt), K Maggs, D Hickie; D Humphreys, P Stringer; R Corrigan, S Byrne, J Hayes, M O'Kelly, G Longwell, V Costello, K Gleeson, A Foley.
Replacements: M Horan, F Sheahan, L Cullen, A Quinlan, G Easterby, P Burke, R Henderson.

Links to more Rugby Union stories


BBC's Jim Neilly
"Humphreys can pick up where left off against Scotland"

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