O’Driscoll and D’Arcy almost certain to start against All Blacks

Release of Darren Cave and Luke Marshall to Ulster a huge pointer ahead of Ireland selection

Gordon D’Arcy  and Brian O’Driscoll, the worlds most capped centre partnership, will be back in tandem against the All Blacks. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Gordon D’Arcy and Brian O’Driscoll, the worlds most capped centre partnership, will be back in tandem against the All Blacks. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Thu, Nov 21, 2013, 13:04

The composition of the Ulster team with Luke Marshall starting at inside centre for their Rabo Pro12 match tonight against Edinburgh tomorrow night suggests that Gordon D’Arcy is certain to start for Ireland, most likely alongside Brian O’Driscoll, against New Zealand on Sunday.

D’Arcy was dropped for Ireland’s match against Australia last weekend and Marshall lined out beside outside centre O’Driscoll. Both Marshall and Darren Cave have been released by Irish coach Joe Schmidt to their province for Pro12 duty this weekend.

The decision means that if O’Driscoll recovers from the calf injury he is nursing this week, he and D’Arcy would line out against the All Blacks for the last time. O’Driscoll has announced he will retire at the end of this season.

Craig Gilroy will make his first appearance since the start of October at Ravenhill. Gilroy missed Ulster’s back-to-back Heineken Cup wins and was subsequently ruled out of the Ireland panel for the internationals with Samoa, Australia and New Zealand when he damaged an ankle against the Ospreys on October 4th.

The Ireland back has now been passed fit and will start at fullback for the match alongside fellow international Iain Henderson.

Henderson has not played since suffering a toe injury during Ulster’s superb win over Montpellier last month, a problem that also cost him a place in Joe Schmidt’s squad for the November series.

Ulster (v Edinburgh): C Gilroy; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, M Allen; J McKinney, P Marshall; C Black, R Herring, J Afoa; L Stevenson, I Henderson; R Diack (Captain), S Doyle, N Williams. Replacements: N Annett, T Court, R Lutton, D Tuohy, R Wilson, I Porter, P Nelson, R Andrew.

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