15 Mar 2013

O'Driscoll set to play his last match for Ireland?

7:11 am on 15 March 2013

Brian O'Driscoll has been named in the Ireland rugby side to take on Italy in their Six Nations closer in Rome this weekend 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-all 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.

However, Ireland head coach Declan Kidney was forced to change his starting line-up when fly-half Jonathan Sexton, who had been named in the team after missing the games against Scotland and France with a hamstring injury, was ruled out again.

Just two hours after being named in the side, Leinster playmaker Sexton withdrew after tearing a tendon in his left foot during a training session today.

Paddy Jackson deputised for Sexton in Ireland's last two matches and he will win his third cap after being restored to the team to cover for the injury.

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.