Brian O’Driscoll is to set a new all-time Test appearances record of 140 caps in his penultimate international bow today, easing past former Australia scrum-half George Gregan’s tally.
The 35-year-old will turn out at the Aviva Stadium for his 52nd and final international appearance in Dublin, also notching a new RBS 6 Nations caps record of 64 in the process.
Enjoy today @BrianODriscoll, your girls are very proud of you xx— Amy Huberman (@amyhuberman) March 8, 2014
Back-five forward Iain Henderson replaces the injured Peter O’Mahony at blindside flanker, the 22-year-old Ulsterman winning his first Six Nations start.
Italy have refused to risk back-row trailblazers Sergio Parisse and Alessandro Zanni, so lock Marco Bortolami captains the Azzurri for his 103rd cap.
Best of luck to Brian o driscoll and team today so much respect for you lads. Give the Italians hell :-)— Paul McGrath (@Paulmcgrath5) March 8, 2014
Ireland: R. Kearney, Trimble, O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, D. Kearney, Sexton, Murray, Healy, Best, Ross, Toner, O’Connell, Henderson, Henry, Heaslip.
Replacements: Cronin, McGrath, Moore, Ruddock, Murphy, Reddan, Jackson, McFadden.
Italy: McLean, Esposito, Campagnaro, Garcia, Sarto, Orquera, Tebaldi, De Marchi, Ghiraldini, Castrogiovanni, Geldenhuys, Bortolami, Furno, Derbyshire, Barbieri.
Replacements: Giazzon, Rizzo, Cittadini, Pavanello, Vosawai, Gori, Allan, Masi.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales).