24 May, 14:08
The Irish Rugby Supporters Club is delighted to announce that tickets for the GUINNESS Series 2013 will go on sale on ticketmaster.ie at 10am on Thursday, May 30.
"It's pretty much a full-strength side from what we have. I am looking at what our best combinations will be in the centre if we have injuries and at the moment Andrew Trimble and Gordon D'Arcy are that and hopefully that will be proven on Friday night.
"In these games there is still an element of looking at combinations. Having injuries does force your hand into tinkering with those combinations.
"We're without our openside David Wallace, we have put seven on Neil Best's back but we might move the back rows around during the game in different situations.
"It's a full strength team from what we have available and I was always hoping to go down this road in the last game before the World Cup and put our best team on the field."
ON PLAYING AT RAVENHILL:
"It will be a huge occasion, the tickets were sold out almost instantaneously, there were queues around the corner and even when extra tickets went on re-sale there was a huge scramble for them.
"There has been a huge interest with people at training every day. It has been a great atmosphere and the weather has been fantastic too. It's been great for the lads to get that kind of support before the game even kicks off.
"It's going to be a full house and I've been in Ravenhill many a Friday night for Heineken Cup games and when it starts cooking there it's great stuff. It's our final game before we head off to the World Cup, we want to create an atmosphere where we're playing good rugby and getting the crowd behind us.
"In the match last week against Bayonne we played two good quarters and lost our shape, on Friday I'm hoping we keep our shape for the whole game."
ON THE ITALIAN TEAM:
"Italy are a bigger ask than Bayonne and it will be all hands to the pump but I'm hoping we hit the ground somewhat running and give the crowd something to cheer about.
"Italy are good opponents because the one thing I want at this time of the year is physicality. They are the most physical team in the Six Nations, the morning after an Italy match you're that bit more bruised and sore.
"They play a very intense game of rugby - whether they play the same way on Friday I don't know. When we played them in Rome we got our game plan just about right.
"The game will have everything we want - it will be robust, fast, intense and passionate and I think that is a great way to get ready for a World Cup."
ON INJURIES IN THE SQUAD:
"Brian (O'Driscoll) is on the mend. He'll be joining the squad later in the week and he'll start back fitness training. Obviously, he has to be careful in what he does because of the wound on his face. He'll have to avoid any collisions so it'll be mainly fitness training for the moment. But, as of now, he's on track.
"Shane Horgan has made some very good strides (with his knee injury). He's with us in camp here and he's working 24/7 on his knee. All the indicators are that he's on course to make a good recovery.
"I suppose we have to be realistic, though, and we'll have more data when we take a scan on his knee next week. We'll have a better idea then of where he is.
"There's been a lot of speculation about David (Wallace) because he hasn't been playing or training, so I would like to put people's minds at ease. He has a chronic ankle problem which has been giving him trouble on and off for the past couple of years. He had a bit of a setback a couple of weeks ago, when it flared up again. And what we've been doing is keeping him out of contact as much as possible.
"But I expect that, at the moment, he'll be ready for the start of the World Cup. I expect him to start in our first game against Namibia. So, I just don't want any setbacks between now and then."