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'Joe always says you've got to make the guy outside you look better'

Isaac Boss gets a chance to impress at scrum-half against Scotland tomorrow.

THERE ARE SELECTION conundrums in many places for Joe Schmidt in the Ireland squad as he looks towards eventually naming his 31-man group for the World Cup by the 31 August deadline.

The back three features strength in depth, there are decisions to be made in the locking department, while the choice of bringing five or six props is a demanding one to make.

Isaac Boss Isaac Boss played in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

At scrum-half, Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan look nailed on to travel, but tomorrow’s warm-up clash against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium (KO 17.00) provides Isaac Boss with an opportunity to strengthen his status as third in line.

Clearly, the 35-year-old has greater ambitions than just being part of the squad at the World Cup, but seeing Kieran Marmion spark off the bench last weekend in Cardiff reminded Boss of the competition he faces.

Marmion has been released to Connacht for this evening’s friendly with Castres in France, though he remains part of the Ireland squad.

“He got the first crack of the whip last week and I thought he did really well when he came on,” said Boss of Marmion’s outing against Wales. “He’s progressed and in a lot of cases, he’s probably been the form nine.

He’s a very good attacking weapon, only got a small bit of game time last week but did really well. He goes back and it’s a catch 22 if he has a good performance with Connacht, it almost backs up his performance last week.

“We’re all competing and if you go back four years, Conor came from nowhere and played almost the whole World Cup. I’ve been around long enough to know that could happen quite easily again.”

The key for Boss in convincing Schmidt to retain faith in his experience, physical robustness and communication skills is doing the simple things well against the Scots tomorrow, rather than looking to win the game by himself.

“The way we do that (impress Schmidt) is by doing the things we’ve been doing day in, day out,” said Boss.

Joe Schmidt Schmidt has four strong scrum-halves to choose from. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It’s no different to the Six Nations. Joe always says you’ve got to do your bit to make the guy outside you look better. Those are the things that get seen, it’s just that there’s probably more riding on it than in the past.

The other guys got their chance last week and played really well. A number of guys have come in and there’s others who haven’t had the opportunity yet. We’re egging each other on with the competition, but we’ve got to put ourselves forward as well.”

Boss states that Munster man Murray is “seen as being out ahead of the rest of us,” but underlines the fact that himself, Reddan and Marmion are “not going to let him rest on that.”

So how does the pecking order look to him right now?

“I’m starting on Saturday, that’s all I can worry about! That gives me an opportunity. Redser played really well last week too. This game is all I’m thinking about, making the most of it.”

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Murray Kinsella

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