Six Nations
Kidney wary of O'Driscoll void
ESPNscrum Staff
January 26, 2012
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll celebrates his side's victory over England, Ireland v England, Six Nations, Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland, March 19, 2011
Who will fill Brian O'Driscoll's shirt in this year's Six Nations? © Getty Images

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has decided who will fill the void left by injured talisman Brian O'Driscoll but admits it will be a tough act to follow.

O'Driscoll will miss the entire Six Nations after undergoing shoulder surgery, leaving an enormous hole at outside centre but Kidney has selected the player he wants to start at No.13 against Wales in their opener in Dublin on February 5.

"I have a fair idea in my mind who will replace Brian," he said. "Keith Earls, Fergus McFadden, Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble have all played well there in the past. There's even the option of having Paddy Wallace and Gordon D'Arcy there too.

"It won't be a like for like replacement, there are different combinations available. Brian hasn't been too willing to give the jersey up. Everyone's wondering what does the jersey feel like because he's had it for so long. You don't lose one of the best players in the world and think it will be the same."

Ireland have been given a challenging start to the Six Nations with France in Paris arriving just six days after Wales. The opener has taken on an air of a grudge match after the Welsh won the Celtic rivals' World Cup quarter-final last autumn.

Paul O'Connell, who has taken over the captaincy in the absence of O'Driscoll, insists it is vital they hit full throttle the moment the championship begins. "We can't afford a slow start against Wales. We won't be able to start by playing anything other than to the best of our potential," O'Connell said.

"We lost to them in the quarter-final because didn't play to our potential and paid the price. We need to put in a big performance. There will be no warm up going into it, we must produce it from the start."

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