O’Driscoll misses Ireland training
Ireland centre is under the weather but should be available for selection
As Ireland continue their preparations for Saturday’s Six Nations showdown with England there is a slight concern over the availability of Brian O’Driscoll.
The veteran centre, who is set to face England for the final time before entering retirement at the end of the season, missed Ireland’s training session this morning through illness although defence coach Les Kiss remains confident he will be fit for selection when the team is named on Thursday.
“Brian didn’t run today,” Kiss explained at this afternoon’s press briefing. “He has a bit of a bug, we’re just managing it. He’ll be fine for Thursday. I don’t know if you’d call it a stomach bug but he’s not feeling the best.”
Fit-again Munster lock Donnacha Ryan has “trained the house down” according to Kiss, and is now in contention for the place on the bench vacated by Dan Tuohy, who broke his arm in the 26-3 victory over Wales.
Ryan could now well take a seat on the bench ahead of Ulster’s Iain Henderson and Leinster second row Mike McCarthy. Kiss said the 30-year-old Munster lock’s long-term club partnership with Ireland captain Paul O’Connell boosts his chances.
“It’s great to see Donnacha back, he’s come back in and trained the house down.
“He’s a definite option; we’ve just got to consider everything, and what our stocks are in that area, but it’s certainly timely for him to be back after Dan Tuohy’s injury.
“Probably some pluses with Donnacha are that he’s worked a lot with Paul in terms of the line-out, and the calling systems are not too far removed in terms of that type of transfer, so that knowledge is a plus.
“In terms of the defensive and attack changes we’ve made since Joe’s come along, he’s got to get his head around those pretty quickly, but Donnacha’s a smart boy.”
Kiss hailed Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees’ New Zealand-style playmaking role as central to Stuart Lancaster’s desire to expand England’s attacking repertoire.
“I think he has developed that nice, organised mindset in his game very well,” said Kiss. “He’s like a New Zealand second-five eighth, and does facilitate what they are trying to achieve in attack and offers them the ability to go both sides of the ruck, and so do (Jack) Nowell and (Mike) Brown and even (Jonny) May.
“It keeps you alive across the field, and I think Twelvetrees’ game is critical for that, because it helps (Owen) Farrell as well.
“They have a really solid, organised approach to their attack,” said Kiss. “And that allows the brilliance of some of their individuals to come to the fore.
“Young Jack Nowell for example has been encouraged to throw himself into different moments of the game. That may look a little unstructured, but they set that part of it up, even Danny Care having a dart here and there.
“And a lot of their organisation comes through Farrell, orchestrating the shape from 10, to their movement.
“They will eek out or look for the weaknesses and mismatches in your defence, so we just need to have our heads-up this week, that’s for sure.”