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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Test Match Countdown: Four Days To Go

Test Match Countdown: Four Days To Go

…O’Sullivan Receives Bordeaux Honour…Horgan ‘Itching’ For Return…Costly Questions For Duffy…Say What?…Numbers Game…

O’SULLIVAN RECEIVES BORDEAUX HONOUR: The people of Saint-Emilion, one of the four principal red wine areas of Bordeaux, have bestowed an honour on Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan.

Speaking on TV3, Paddy O’Flynn, a founder of ‘The Wine Buff’ company and a resident of the Bordeaux region for the past 20 years, explained O’Sullivan’s award.


“It’s the coat ‘du Bordeaux’ which groups three different areas within Bordeaux. It’s almost like the knights of the round table whereby you induct somebody into this and their objective is to promote the wines from this region,” he said.


“It’s a very special honour because there’s only two Irish people to have received it up to now – Eddie and myself. It’s a mark of respect for this man and what he’s done with the Irish team and also a mark of respect for the team itself.”


HORGAN ‘ITCHING’ FOR RETURN: It has been a long and often frustrating road back to fitness but winger Shane Horgan is ready to put his knee ligament strain behind him and return to the fray for Ireland this weekend.


Horgan is back in peak condition after weeks of rehabilitation work, overseen by Ireland team physio Cameron Steele and fitness and conditioning coach Mike McGurn.


“Getting the injury just two weeks before the start of the World Cup was a big worry and I knew it was serious. I felt a little pop and I knew immediately that it was medial ligament related. Those things can take a long time,” explained the 29-year-old.


“Thankfully when we got the scan, it was a grade two tear and that gave me the chance to get back.


“My leg was in a brace for a couple of weeks so I didn’t have full movement but I was able to do some weights pretty quickly and after I was given the go-ahead to take off the brace, it was a steady, gradual increase in recreating the movements that you would do on the pitch.”


Horgan, now one of the more senior players in the Ireland set-up, is eagerly awaiting his return to international rugby against Georgia on Saturday. The Leinster player will hope to quickly rediscover his scoring form in Bordeaux – he has touched down four times in his last seven outings for Ireland.


“The last week and a half I was back on the pitch, running with the guys and doing full fitness sessions. I’ve now taken part in the full contact sessions,” he added of his rehab work.


“I am itching to get back on the pitch now. I can’t wait to get involved.”


COSTLY QUESTIONS FOR DUFFY: Despite not featuring in the Ireland matchday squad for last Sunday’s Pool D opener against Namibia, utility back Gavin Duffy still had an eventful opening few days in Bordeaux.


Having settled in quickly at the team hotel, the Connacht player’s appetite for fun got the better of him and ended up hitting him in the wallet – as he explained in his column in the Mayo News.


“I was rooming with John Hayes and then Alan Quinlan last week. As a result of the latter arrangement, I was banned from asking questions for 24 hours at the weekend because apparently I ask too many!


“I feel I was stitched up a small bit. When Frankie Sheahan heard I was rooming with Alan, he told me to keep probing him for information, as he likes people to challenge his vast well of knowledge. I knew Sheahan was having me on, but decided to do it anyway for a laugh,” Duffy said.


“To cut a long story short, ‘Quinny’ went to Sheahan the next day and organised for me to be banned from asking any questions whatsoever for the day. The lads had a lot of fun catching me out and it cost me a fair few euros in fines.”


SAY WHAT?:


“Early in my career I had lots of injuries. Then I had a clean run and the last two have been serious…but it really helps if you have a carrot. Croke Park the last time, the World Cup now.


“When I knew is was a grade two, there was a chink of light there. Mental strength at that stage then wasn’t an issue, it became very, very easy to work extremely hard.”


– Ireland’s fit-again winger Shane Horgan, who will be back on the right wing against Georgia on Saturday, talks about his comeback from a knee ligament strain


“We would hope to be farther down the track, but we aren’t and can’t unring the bell.”


– Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan is hoping his side can get back on track with a lively performance against Georgia after their lacklustre start to the World Cup


“That’s the one upsetting thing for me. I thought they were just going to stream on to the World Cup, undefeated for a couple of years having played brilliant rugby…and then blow it (at the World Cup)! No, no, not that I wish it – I’m not as bitter and twisted a man as you (Brian Moore) are.”


– Former Ireland captain Keith Wood discussing New Zealand’s run-in towards the World Cup, which saw them lose to Australia in the Tri-Nations, with ex-England international Brian Moore


NUMBERS GAME:


795 – The number of caps that the selected Ireland team to face Georgia this weekend has – it will be the most experienced Irish side to ever take to the field for an international.


2 – The number of players in the current Ireland World Cup squad that figured in the 70-0 World Cup qualifying win over Georgia in Dublin in 1998. Those two players are Girvan Dempsey and Malcolm O’Kelly.


6,000 – The number of estimated volunteers from host nation France that are helping with the smooth running of the 2007 World Cup.