Wood returns to face Russian front line

 

As expected, Keith Wood returns to the Ireland front row for Saturday¿s World Cup qualifier against Russia in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia.

Wood, who missed the recent friendly win over Romania due to a family bereavement, will replace Shane Byrne at hooker, the only change Eddie O'Sullivan has made from the side that took to the field at Thomond Park.

Brian O'Driscoll, an injury concern after sustaining a quadricep injury against the Romanians, has been passed fit and will start at centre. Ronan O'Gara will once again start at out-half with David Humphreys consigned to the replacements bench.

The squad, which has been reshuffled slightly over the weekend as injuries arising from Celtic League clashes took their toll, will depart for Siberia on Thursday morning.

Four additional players will travel with the team and replacements to provide cover in the event of any injury problems. These are Connacht's Mark McHugh, London Irish's Justin Bishop, and the Munster forwards Donncha O'Callaghan and Marcus Horan.

Ireland: G Dempsey (Leinster); J Kelly (Munster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster), K Maggs (Bath), D Hickie (Leinster); R O'Gara (Munster), P Stringer (Munster); R Corrigan (Leinster), K Wood (Harlequins), J Hayes (Munster), G Longwell (Ulster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), S Easterby (Llanelli), A Foley (Munster), K Gleeson (Leinster).

Replacements: S Byrne (Leinster), P Wallace (Leinster), L Cullen (Leinster), A Quinlan (Munster), G Easterby (Llanelli), D Humphreys (Ulster), R Henderson (Munster).