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Flying Fitzgerald gets nod over Trimble

LEINSTER'S Luke Fitzgerald has been parachuted in ahead of Ulster's Andrew Trimble in the most significant selection of Ireland coach Declan Kidney's 33-man squad to prepare for battle with Wales.

The main areas of contest centre around the back row where Peter O'Mahony and Chris Henry will battle it out to join captain Heaslip and Sean O'Brien and the wing where the nailed-on Simon Zebo will be joined by either Craig Gilroy, Keith Earls or Fitzgerald.

There is always the long-odds chance of Kidney finally asking Brian O'Driscoll to move into 12 and putting Earls into the 13 jersey.

Surely, this would be too much to take given O'Driscoll's recent demotion from the captaincy and his sense of unfinished business with the British & Irish Lions in the summer.

The main omission is Ulster's muscular wing Trimble, who has mostly won his tussle with Gilroy under the watchful eye of coach Mark Anscombe.



Impressed

It has been different for Ireland, where Gilroy impressed in an uncapped international against Fiji and tore Argentina apart in the November international.

Trimble seems to have lost out to the rejuvenated Fitzgerald in what was as close to a head-to-head as possible in the Irish Wolfhounds side that lost out to the England Saxons in Galway on Friday night.

This will come as a surprise to many as Trimble has always thrived on the sort of physical challenge that Wales' Alex Cuthbert and George North will bring if selected given the form of The Osprey flyer Eli Walker.

Tight-head Michael Bent, wing Luke Fitzgerald, flanker Kevin McLaughlin and lock Devin Toner bring the Leinster total contribution to 15, headed by captain Jamie Heaslip.

The Ireland team to play Wales will be announced tomorrow lunchtime.

Ireland Training Squad (33)

Full-Back: R Kearney.

Wings: S Zebo, C Gilroy, L Fitzgerald, K Earls.

Centres: B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, F McFadden, D McSharry.

Fly-halfs: J Sexton, R O'Gara, P Jackson.

Scrum-halfs: C Murray, E Reddan.

Hookers: R Best, S Cronin, M Sherry.

Loose-heads: C Healy, D Kilcoyne, T Court.

Tight-heads: M Ross, D Fitzpatrick, M Bent.

Second rows: D Ryan, M McCarthy, D O'Callaghan, D Toner.

Flankers: S O'Brien, P O'Mahony, C Henry, K McLaughlin, I Henderson.

Number eight: J Heaslip.