RugbyU: O'Driscoll fit for duty against Italy

Brian O'Driscoll was named Thursday in the Ireland side to take on Italy in their Six Nations closer in Rome on Saturday in what could be his final match in the tournament.

O'Driscoll, along with centre partner Luke Marshall, was concussed during last weekend's 13-13 draw with France, but both players have been passed fit.

The former skipper has struggled with injuries over the last three years and there have been reports in the Irish media that he is set to announce his retirement from international rugby at the age of 34.

Also passed fit was fly-half Jonathan Sexton, who missed the games against Scotland and France with a hamstring injury.

There remains though a slight doubt over Sexton's fitness as he is being examined for a minor injury, according to head coach Declan Kidney.

"Jonny turned over on his foot a little bit this morning, but we expect that he'll be fine. He's being checked out now. Ian Madigan will travel with us as cover," Kidney said.

"Jonny's very keen to get going now and is very happy to be involved."

Sexton's return means that deputy Paddy Jackson drops to the bench with Madigan losing his place among the replacements - unless Sexton fails to recover.

Craig Gilroy returns on the right wing after overcoming a groin strain, replacing rib-fracture victim Fergus McFadden.

The pack is unchanged from the team that started against France with lock Donnacha Ryan being passed fit after sustaining a shoulder injury in that game.

Ireland have never lost to Italy in the Six Nations with their last defeat to the Azzurri coming in 1997 before they joined the tournament.

Victory in Rome, combined with France defeating Scotland in Paris, would give the Irish third-place - a reasonable return given the number of injuries they have endured in the championship.

But defeat, combined with a French win, would thrust them into contention for the wooden spoon.

The Ireland team named on Thursday to play Italy in the Six Nations tournament in Rome on Saturday:-

Ireland (15-1)

Rob Kearney; Craig Gilroy, Brian O'Driscoll, Luke Marshall, Keith Earls; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahoney; Donnacha Ryan, Mike McCarthy; Mike Ross, Rory Best, Cian Healy.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, David Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Devin Toner, Iain Henderson, Paul Marshall, Paddy Jackson, Luke Fitzgerald.