Ireland brace for RWC assault

Shane Horgan has been included in Ireland’s 30-man World Cup squad despite a knee strain which may rule him out of the pool games.

Scans revealed Horgan had strained knee ligaments in the 31-21 loss to Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday.

“The time line is probably four weeks at best for him – that puts him with a shot at making the second pool match against Georgia,” Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan told RTE Television.

“I am keeping the door open for that reason. He is such an important player to us.”

Ulsterman Tommy Bowe will travel with the squad to France this week for training and will act as cover for Horgan.

Centre Brian O’Driscoll will captain the team and the front row contingent contains four props and three hookers. Neil Best, Stephen Ferris and Alan Quinlan join Denis Leamy, David Wallace and Simon Easterby will compete for places in a talent laden back-row.

“This was one of the toughest moments of my coaching career to select this 30-man squad,” O’Sullivan said earlier on Sunday in a statement.

“The players in the enlarged World Cup squad have all worked their guts out in pre-season and this has been the case throughout the camps over the last number of weeks.”

O’Sullivan criticised his side’s defence in their clash with Scotland but was happy with the selection clarity the match provided.

“The Scotland game solved some of the selection issues in the back-row and also the back three and after four years of preparation, we are now on the run-in to the tournament,” he said.

“The challenge for us all now is to compete and be as successful as we can be in the tournament.”

The team left on Sunday for the south of France for five days of warm weather training before returning to Belfast to prepare for the final warm-up game against Italy in Ravenhill on August 24.

Backs - Isaac Boss, Brian Carney, Gordon D’Arcy, Girvan Dempsey, Gavin Duffy, Denis Hickie, Shane Horgan, Geordan Murphy, Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Eoin Reddan, Peter Stringer, Andrew Trimble, Paddy Wallace.

Forwards – Neil Best, Rory Best, Simon Best, Simon Easterby, Stephen Ferris, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Marcus Horan, Denis Leamy, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Malcolm O’Kelly, Alan Quinlan, Frankie Sheahan, David Wallace, Bryan Young.