Azzurri have Magners snub point to prove, warns Heaslip
Saturday 06 February 2010
Ireland begin their quest to win back-to-back Grand Slams when they open their Six Nations defence against Italy at Croke Park today.
After ending their 61-year wait for a Grand Slam, captain Brian O'Driscoll wants Ireland to build on that triumph. "There's an element of the monkey now being off our back," he said. "You just forget that and look to another campaign, putting the same pressure on yourself to perform. We've spoken about expectations and we know we can't remain stagnant otherwise other teams will pass us by."
O'Driscoll has been reunited with Leinster team-mate Gordon D'Arcy in the midfield, a partnership that has proved effective in the past. D'Arcy has been rewarded for his fine club form, displacing Ulster's Paddy Wallace. "I'm pleased that Gordon is back. It took him time, a while to get back from that broken arm – he was out for a year," O'Driscoll added.
While Italy are favourites to finish bottom of the Six Nations again, Jamie Heaslip fears the Azzurri could be out for revenge after the club sides were refused entry to the Magners League.
"Italy are a class outfit and they might feel they have something to prove," Heaslip said. "They might have something against the Irish team now that Italy didn't get the nod for the Magners League. We play against the Italian players in the Heineken Cup – they're big and they bash you about. They hit hard, have some skilful players and seriously good finishers."
The Italy coach, Nick Mallett, will use the same squad from November's win over Samoa that ended a 13-game losing streak, including all five in last season's Six Nations.
Ireland v Italy: Croke Park teams
Kearney (Leinster) 15
Bowe (Ospreys) 14
O'Driscoll (Leinster) 13
D'Arcy (Leinster) 12
Trimble (Ulster) 11
O'Gara (Munster) 10
O'Leary (Munster) 9
Healy (Leinster) 1
Flannery (Munster) 2
Hayes (Munster) 3
Cullen (Leinster) 4
O'Connell (Mun, c) 5
McLaughlin (Leinster) 6
Wallace (Munster) 7
Heaslip (Leinster) 8
16 Best (Ulster); 17 Court (Ulster); 18 Ryan (Munster); 19 O'Brien (Leinster); 20 Reddan (Leinster); 21 Wallace (Ulster); 22 Earls (Munster)
McLean (Treviso) 15
Robertson (Viadana) 14
Canale (Clermont) 13
Garcia (Treviso) 12
Mi Bergamasco (Stade) 11
Gower (Bayonne) 10
Tebaldi (Parma) 9
Perugini (Bayonne) 1
Ghiraldini (Treviso, c) 2
Castrogiovanni (Leic) 3
Del Fava (Viadana) 4
Geldenhuys (Viadana) 5
Sole (Viadana) 6
Ma Bergamasco (Stade) 7
A Zanni (Treviso) 8
Replacements: 16 Ongaro; 17 Aguero (both Saracens); 18 Bortolami (Glouc); 19 Derbyshire (Padova); 20 Picone (Treviso); 21 Bocchino (Rovigo); 22 Masi (Racing Metro)
Referee R Poite (France)
Kick-off 2.30pm TV BBC1
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao live: Mayweather puts on defensive masterclass to win by unanimous decision
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin on Sky Sports Box Office?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does the fight start and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Only 132 pubs in the United Kingdom will show the fight - so where can you watch it?
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 3 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds