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Fringe players prepare for Russian mission

Paul O’Connell, Gordon D’Arcy and Tommy Bowe are all likely to sit out Sunday’s Pool C game with injury.

Paul O'Connell watches line-out training.
Paul O'Connell watches line-out training.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

A TRIO OF minor injury concerns look set to open the door for some of Ireland’s fringe players as Declan Kidney shuffles his pack for Sunday’s game against Russia.

The Irish coach is unlikely to risk Paul O’Connell, Gordon D’Arcy (both hamstring) and Tommy Bowe (calf), all of whom sat out training in recent days with minor muscle strains.

Though team manager Paul McNaughton indicated today that all three could return to full training as early as tomorrow, it is likely that they will be wrapped up and put away ahead of the final pool game against Italy next weekend.

Kidney will name his side for the game in Rotorua in the early hours of the morning and could be tempted into making wholesale changes to the team which beat Australia in Eden Park.

World Cup newbies Leo Cullen, Fergus McFadden, Donnacha Ryan and Damien Varley will be hopeful that they can make their competition debuts at some stage on Sunday, while indications from within the camp suggest that Tony Buckley, Shane Jennings and Andrew Trimble are all in line to start.

In this morning’s media briefing, McNaughton attempted to put the continuing speculation surrounding Ronan O’Gara’s future to bed once and for all.

Yesterday, the out-half clarified recent comments which seemed to indicate his intention to retire after the World Cup, explaining that he had been misinterpreted.

“As far as we’re concerned, in his several statements and interviews, he’s confirmed early retirement wasn’t on the agenda. We’re happy with that,” McNaughton said.

I think he was definitive. I thought he was quite clear yesterday that he wants to continue to play for Ireland.

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Niall Kelly

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