Irish wounds on the wane

Ireland should be close to full strength for their Rugby World Cup opener against Namibia on Sunday, with captain Brian O’Driscoll and flank David Wallace almost certainly fit for selection.

Eddie O’Sullivan and his 30-man squad jetted off this afternoon to Bordeaux, their base for the pool stages, with two of their major injury worries – O’Driscoll (fractured sinus) and Wallace (ankle) – on course to start this weekend’s clash.

A knee injury is expected to keep Shane Horgan sidelined until Ireland’s meeting with Georgia on Saturday week, but the injury news is generally promising for O’Sullivan – who will make his first team announcement on Thursday.

“Brian and Shane [Horgan] are in great form,” said O’Sullivan, prior to the squad’s departure for France on Wednesday.

“Brian took a full part in training yesterday and I think the medics are happy to clear him for this weekend’s game. That’s a great boost for everybody.

“I’m happy with Shane and the progress with his knee. He’s a little bit behind Brian but he’s still ahead of schedule.

“I don’t think Shane will be ready this weekend but certainly he looks good for the week after against Georgia.

“David Wallace has taken a full part in training for the last few days and he’s had no reaction [in his left ankle] so it’s all good.”

Should Wallace be cleared for the Namibia game, the former Lion’s urgent need for game-time would see Neil Best – Ireland’s man of the match in their warm-up win over Italy – dropping to the bench.

Both players are World Cup debutants and while Wallace is in pole position for the openside slot, Best would dearly love to make his mark on the tournament, particularly against hosts France, a team he rates highly.

The Ulster man said: “I like the contrast France have between the physical forwards and the flashy backs. There’s more contrast in France than anywhere else in the world.

“They’ve got strength in depth in every position and are a quality side.

“But they’ve huge pressure on them as hosts.

“It will be interesting to see how they go against Argentina on Friday as it remains to be see how they’ll react to that pressure.”

Ireland’s summer’s worth of pre-season work was followed by two less than impressive warm-up outings against Scotland and Italy – but O’Sullivan remains confident that his team will peak in France.

He continued: “Probably the disappointing aspect of our preparation has been the performance against Italy. I was disappointed with that and I said so afterwards.

“We didn’t get into the game very well, we know what went wrong there and we’ll just get on and fix it.

“Fellas have trained very well this week. We’ve the game coming up on Sunday and it should go well for us if we do the right things.

“It’s all positive at the moment and we are where we want to be.

“We’ve got to keep in mind that these warm-up games are just warm-up games and there’s no point peaking for those and not performing in the real thing.”

 

365 Digital

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