Brian O'Driscoll picks his Ireland back-three ahead of the 6 Nations
Joe Schmidt's side travel to Paris to open their 6 Nations campaign in early February14:55 Saturday 13 January 2018, 14:55 13 Jan 2018
Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll joined Friday's Off the Ball to assess the state of Irish rugby as the season begins to heat up.
With the 6 Nations less than a month away and given the good form of the provinces at the moment, the former Leinster stalwart was asked to pick his starting Ireland back-three against France in Paris in the first weekend in February.
Asked by Ger Gilroy who he'd select, he said: "That's a very good question...Personally I still think the guy that's playing the best rugby at full-back in Ireland at the moment, all-round game is Simon Zebo.
"So, I think to discount him for the World Cup would be biting your nose off to spite your face.
"I think Rob Kearney hasn't done a huge amount wrong but I think Zebo, in attack, offers a little bit more.
"I think I'd have Stockdale one wing and I'd probably have Keith Earls, judging by his performance last weekend in particular - he looked a guy who had been out for a while for the first 30/40/50 minutes and then he just sparked into life.
"And, he has, you know he's 30/31 now and he doesn't look as if he has lost a yard. He looks so lean, powerful, he has a good skill-set and I think he's a great man for picking up easy tries. He scores so many run-ins but you've got to be there to do it - you've got to find yourself in the right positions," he added.
However, given IRFU's unfavourable stance on selecting foreign-based players - it's unlikely Zebo will feature in the up-coming championship, even-though he's not departing these shores until the end of the season and O'Driscoll believes Rob Kearney will start at 15 when Joe Schmidt finalises his team.
"Yeah, that's what I think it'll be (Kearney, Stockdale and Earls) and that's purely on form. Rob Kearney's not done a huge amount wrong this year - he's been solid.
"But, I think when you're looking for all-out flare and people on the top of their game, I'm a big Simon Zebo fan. I think he's been very good for them (Munster) over that period where he has made his announcement, there hasn't been any dip in form...I think Zebo is probably going to find himself on the extremities again.
The full Bodcast can be heard here:
The very best bits delivered every weekSubscribe now