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Horan travels to prop up Ireland
PA Sport
August 10, 2007

Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan has confirmed that Marcus Horan is to travel with the squad to Edinburgh for tomorrow's clash with Scotland.

He is included as cover for Ulster prop Simon Best, who was named in the team at tighthead but suffered a back spasm and missed yesterday's training session in Bray.

O'Sullivan believes, however, that he will be fit in time to take his place in the starting line-up tomorrow afternoon.

``Simon has a spasm and he should be fine but we are bringing along Marcus Horan anyway just in case, but I expect he (Best) will be fine again,'' he said.

``If there is nothing overnight and the doctor is happy with him, I don't see a problem.''

There was a scare for O'Sullivan yesterday when Paddy Wallace turned on his ankle, but the Ireland boss insisted that the Ulster fly-half is ready for action.

``We'll do an hour and a team workout but I don't see any problem,'' O'Sullivan added.

``It was really a precaution taking him off yesterday and I don't see any issues at all.''

Scotland have picked a full-strength line-up for tomorrow's World Cup warm-up match, and the Irish back row of Ulster duo Stephen Ferris and Neil Best and Leinster's Jamie Heaslip will face a formidable set of loose forwards in Jason White, Simon Taylor and Ally Hogg.

O'Sullivan insists he is pleased that the Irish trio will be facing such a demanding challenge.

``The Scots have picked a pretty strong side which is good for us as regards the chance to go up against a pretty much full-strength Test side,'' he said.

``It will be a good test for the back row and it will be, I think, an interesting battle tomorrow, with a lot to play for for the three boys starting.''

With the countdown continuing to the World Cup, O'Sullivan believes he should go to France with one of the best squads he has ever assembled, injuries permitting.

He said: ``At this moment in time, if our injury profile stays at what it is, it is as good a squad of players as we have ever had together.

``It hasn't happened by accident, we have had a lot of hard work and a lot of planning and the right system built by the IRFU over the last five or six years, to be fair to them.''

O'Sullivan believes the success of Irish provincial sides has spurred the national squad and vice-versa.

``The interfacing of the national team and the provincial squads - each one feeds off the other,'' he added.

``The IRFU developed that strategy to a point where Scotland and Wales are both trying to mirror that now, and even England are beginning to look at what we are doing and see can they do the same things.

``You give credit where credit is due. The IRFU have got a lot of things right and they get their criticisms and they have their critics, but they have done a lot of stuff that is very important to the game in Ireland.

``The reflection of that is the expectation we bring to the World Cup, the profile of the game in Ireland and the number of people who are interested in rugby now is unprecedented.

``I think the IRFU need to take a bow on that because they have done an awful lot of things right in that area.''

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