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BOD will battle to play: Kiss


Celtic Warrior:  Brian O'Driscoll. Richard Heathcote/Getty.

Celtic Warrior: Brian O'Driscoll. Richard Heathcote/Getty.

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Celtic Warrior: Brian O'Driscoll. Richard Heathcote/Getty.

IRELAND assistant coach Les Kiss has made a case for Brian O'Driscoll overcoming a concussion that threatens his involvement against Italy in the Six Nations at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

"I asked Brian why he wanted to tackle Vincent Debaty twice – I thought he had more smarts than that," said Kiss, at Carton House yesterday.

"He's a warrior who puts his body on the line week in, week out. We know that. It's amazing what he pulls from his reserves. I imagine he'll do everything to be available for Italy. He's talking as though he'll be there."

It is more than a cause for concern that the Ireland management omitted the obvious concussion O'Driscoll suffered on Saturday.

He has already had his ear stitched up and also has a dead leg to deal with as he, once again, bids to defy the ravages of time on his body.

The concussive hits taken by O'Driscoll, from a head-on confrontation with France prop Debaty, and by Luke Marshall, from a stray, accidental knee from second row Sebastien Vahaamahina, make them doubtful.

They will undergo a battery of tests and daily monitoring procedures as part of the return-to-play protocols designed to protect the players from their sense of duty and bravery.

Out-half Jonathan Sexton was passed fit to prepare, not necessarily to play. There is no cast-iron guarantee that he will be able to withstand the rigour of training this week.

He began by taking a full part in training this morning.

Sexton has been as diligent as you would expect in dealing with a grade two hamstring strain that has kept him sidelined since the Six Nations encounter with England last month.

The Leinster fly-half has had to sit and suffer as his deputy Paddy Jackson failed against Scotland at Murrayfield and redeemed himself against France at the Aviva Stadium.

While Jackson has shown clear and present signs of progress under the microscope at out-half, Sexton must still be an automatic choice as long as he can show no ill-effects from his exertions.

The simple fact is that no one knows how Sexton's hamstring will react when the pressure to perform is stepped up this week.

Second row Donnacha Ryan will also make a demand on the time and expertise of the Ireland medical staff following yet another blow to the AC joint in his shoulder.

There must be a doubt over the availability of Ryan, given how his shoulder injury is one that has reccurred in union with a lower back problem.

The lack of strength in depth in the Irish game has surely been a factor on Ryan playing hurt, while Paul O'Connell was scheduled to make his return from long-term injury in an 'A' Interprovincial tie in Limerick.

There is an in-again, out-again feel about the fractured ribs that make Fergus McFadden unavailable and the recovery from a groin injury that make Craig Gilroy available.

Scrum-half Paul Marshall, another uncapped Ulsterman, has been recruited to cover for Leinster nine Eoin Reddan, who has been given a recovery estimate of 12-16 weeks from his fractured leg.



Conor Murray has made a rapid recovery from a knee problem that could have left Ireland looking very bare at scrum-half.

There has been a mounting injury list that stands at more than 40pc compared to the 0pc of the glorious Grand Slam season of 2009.

"The injury run has been absolutely extraordinary and reminded me of that quote, 'grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented'," said Ireland team manager Mick Kearney.

"There isn't an underlying issue. The majority of injuries are soft tissue, which can happen. We've just been unlucky."

Even so, coach Declan Kidney has had to delay his selection for 48 hours as he continues to count the cost of an attritional Six Nations.