Read on for the thoughts of centre Gavin Duffy, back rower Stephen Ferris and hooker Jerry Flannery who are three players hoping to shine against Scotland just a day before Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan makes his World Cup squad announcement.
“It’s always hard to tell what the coach is thinking. Even before when the squad was cut from 48 to 37 I really didn’t know what my chances were. The only way you can take it is that it’s still all to play for, which makes Saturday’s game (against Scotland) all the more important for a lot of the players involved, both on the Irish team and the Scottish team as well.
“Having said that, it’s always great to play for your country so I’m just concentrating on taking the opportunity, trying to put in a solid performance, fit into the patterns and play well. Hopefully I’ll strengthen my case for inclusion in the squad of 30.
“It will be my first time playing centre with Brian (O’Driscoll) so I’m looking forward to it. Obviously he’s a class player who brings confidence to any side he plays with. Hopefully I’ll be able to read him and we’ll work together and cause a bit of mayhem and cause a bit of bother for the Scottish defence.
“Training has gone well and there’s a confidence in the squad. The panel of players is very strong and hopefully thanks to all the good preparation, it’ll lead to a good performance against Scotland on Saturday.”
“I know I have a big opportunity on Saturday and I have to go out and grab it with both hands. I think I am definitely in the mix (for the World Cup squad) but if I go out and don’t put my hand up, there are guys there who are bursting to go.
“I just need to go in, do my job and let Eddie (O’Sullivan) know that I want that position. There only are maybe one or two spots that are up for grabs so it is just a matter of going out and performing on the day.
“Besty (Neil Best) and I haven’t played for Ireland together. We have been playing for Ulster together now for two years. He has taught me a few things and hopefully I have taught him one or two things.
“We are quite alike. We are very aggressive. It is a big issue for the Scottish team because they are a very aggressive team and Ireland found it tough to beat in the Six Nations. So I think we need to go out there and get stuck into these guys, and with Besty and me in the back row, we’ll will liven things up a bit.”
– In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph
“It has been frustrating losing my starting place in the team but you have to remember that I only got my break with Ireland in the first place because Frankie (Sheahan) got injured. When I hurt my shoulder, Rory (Best) came in and did very well and held on to the jersey when I came back. And that was difficult.
“But you have to respect that the fact that the coach has to be loyal to the player that comes in and does a job for him. You just hope that when you get a chance you’ll get in there, prove yourself and then that loyalty will work in your favour.
“Irish rugby is so strong at the moment and it’s only going to get stronger. We’ve so many good players in each position that you have to perform every time you’ve got a green jersey on your back. It really is as simple as that because if you don’t deliver, you’re gone.
“And if there wasn’t this atmosphere of pressure around the squad it wouldn’t be such a good place to be. It makes you a better player. At the end of the day, you want to be successful and be the best possible player you can be, so this is the kind of environment you want to be in.
“I’m just delighted at getting the chance to get back on the field (against Scotland) and back into that green jersey. So I’ll be just doing my best to repay the faith that the coaches have placed in me and we’ll see where that gets me.
“Every single player on the pitch at Murrayfield will have an agenda. Everyone wants to go to the World Cup, and this is the first warm-up game. When you leave lads in gyms for eight weeks, they’re only mad to get out there and hit something. So everyone will be out to knock lumps out of each other on Saturday!”
– In an interview with Setanta Sports