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Ireland make four changes to side

SIX NATIONS Ireland v Scotland
Date: Saturday, 14 March Kick-off: 1700 GMT Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Red Button, Radio 5 Live, Radio Ulster MW and BBC Sport website

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Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll backs the experience of the men brought in

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has made four changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's Six Nations game against Scotland at Murrayfield.

Gordon D'Arcy replaces Paddy Wallace at centre and Peter Stringer comes in for Tomas O'Leary at scrum-half.

Ulster captain Rory Best starts at hooker instead of Jerry Flannery and Denis Leamy is named at number eight, replacing Jamie Heaslip.

The four players who drop out are all named on the replacements' bench.

Rory Best
Rory Best makes his first start of this year's Six Nations campaign
Kidney has made his selection with an eye on a possible Grand Slam match and championship decider against Wales in Cardiff the following week.

D'Arcy is handed his first start for Ireland since last year's Six Nations opener against Italy, when he broke his arm.

"The fact that I can bring in so many experienced, quality players shows the strength in depth that we currently have in the squad," said the Ireland coach.

"The four guys who have come in have been doing very well in training and have done a good job whenever they've come on.

"The lads who are out have done nothing wrong. The new guys will bring their own chemistry to the team and have a wealth of experience, which we'll need against Scotland."

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Kidney had named the same starting team for the victories over France, Italy and England.

John Hayes will break the record for international appearances for Ireland when he wins his 93rd cap in Edinburgh.

Malcolm O'Kelly previously held the record with 92 caps.

Ireland captain O'Driscoll praised D'Arcy's attitude during his slow recovery from his arm injury.

"It's tough on Paddy because he's played some good games but Gordon brings a different element and hopefully we'll see that on Saturday," said O'Driscoll.

"He's worked hard to get back in after being injured for so long and has shown huge patience.

Strings (Peter Stringer) has worked hard on other parts of his game and it's starting to show
Brian O'Driscoll

"A lot of the guys would have lost their head after hearing so much bad news.

"But he looked after himself and now it's paid off, so all credit to him."

Stringer's recall marked the latest twist in an 87-cap Test career that began in Edinburgh nine years ago and looked all but over during the 2007 World Cup.

But a lively substitute appearance in the 14-13 victory over England 10 days ago sees him back in favour.

"Peter is a slightly different player to Tomas," said O'Driscoll.

"Everyone knows he's one of the better passes in world rugby so hopefully that delivery will be as good as we're used to for the best part of 90 Tests.

"It's important that players aren't content with what skills they have, that they're always trying to better themselves.

"Strings has worked hard on other parts of his game and it's starting to show."


Ireland: Kearney; Bowe, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Fitzgerald; O'Gara, Stringer; Horan, Best, Hayes; O'Callaghan, O'Connell; Ferris, D Wallace, Leamy.

Replacements: Murphy, Wallace, O'Leary, Court, Flannery, O'Driscoll, Heaslip.

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see also
Ireland 14-13 England
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Italy 9-38 Ireland
15 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 30-21 France
07 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union


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