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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Eddie O’Sullivan: Press Conference Quotes

Eddie O’Sullivan: Press Conference Quotes

The long wait was over earlier today as Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan announced his 30-man squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France. Read on for his thoughts on the selection and the knee injury to Shane Horgan.

ON PICKING THE 30 PLAYERS FOR THE WORLD CUP:

“Everyone wants to be in the World Cup squad and I imagine that I’m not the most popular guy in some quarters today. I’m disappointed at having to leave some players out – I would love to have accommodated more, but those are the rules of the tournament.

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“There will be some disappointed second rowers and some in the back row. Most teams may have picked four locks but the reality is that one of them isn’t going to see much game-time. That’s why I went for three and six in the back row, another area where there is huge competition. Keith (Gleeson) is unlucky and so too is Jamie (Heaslip).

“It’s tough on Keith. As a player he’s been the ultimate professional. He’s come back from some dreadful injuries. He’s been an example in camp to everybody in how he’s applied himself but unfortunately for him it hasn’t worked out. I felt very bad talking to him this morning.

“As I also said to Jamie Heaslip, things can change. He’s a young player, a very talented lad and he’s trying to get into a World Cup squad in an area that’s probably the most competitive in the world. He’s lost out for that reason and if he was in there this morning I’d probably say the exact same thing about Stephen Ferris.

“Initially we were going to take four locks but it was very hard to pick just five back rows. We’ve only selected three locks because if we took four, there’s a chance that one of them won’t see much action.

“You get more value out of six back rows because they face a higher attrition rate and there are more dynamic combinations to look at. If we do need a fourth lock at some point then one of the loose forwards can fill that position. Picking six back rows was still very hard.

“Hard decisions had to be made, and I must say I’m not feeling on top of my form after having to tell some people that they weren’t included in the squad. I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say that the competition for places in the Irish back row is as fierce as in any top rugby-playing country in the world.

“There are no easy answers and it’s the toughest part of the job. It’s almost a relief to get it over, but for the guys who lost out I have just said it’s a long road from here to the World Cup final.”

ON THE 16 FORWARDS-14 BACKS SPLIT IN THE SQUAD:

“I decided on that (split) a long time ago and it would have taken an extraordinary set of circumstances to change my mind.

“I’ve always said that when you have to pick three hookers and three scrum-halves, it means that you’re covering the rest of the positions with 24 players. Pick up a couple of soft tissue injuries – and backs tend to be prone to them – and you’re in trouble.

“Now that the squad has been named, it makes it easier to knuckle down to business, for the players to get the World Cup hat on finally. The tournament starts for them today and the next goal for the players is to battle it out for places in the team or at least in the matchday 22.”

ON SHANE HORGAN’S KNEE INJURY:

“The news on Shane is that he has a grade two MCL tear which is probably a four-week injury, depending on his capacity to recover. On that basis, it puts him in with a chance of playing in the second pool game against Georgia and that’s that target.

“Whether he makes that deadline will be decided over the next few weeks and we might make that decision prior to then if we have more information. It’s down to how well he heals and he’s a good healer so we’re giving him a chance.

Tommy Bowe will stay with the squad until we get more data on Shane, but we’re doing the best we can to keep our options open. We had to give ourselves a chance to get everybody we want on the plane.

“Shane had a scan this morning and he was seen by two experts in the field. They were of the view that he has a 50-50 chance of making the Georgia match. There’ll be no surgery on this so it’s a question of how quickly he’ll heal – and that’s down to the player himself. We’ll know more in the next week or two how he’s progressing.

“The tournament doesn’t kick off for another few weeks so we have to give him that window of opportunity to see if he can make that progress. If it becomes evident in the next while that he’s not going to make it, then we’ll make the decision.”