Rory raring to go for Irish
Ireland hooker Rory Best is thrilled at being handed a start against French club side Bayonne.
By Paul Higham
Last Updated: 15/08/07 4:46pm
Ireland hooker Rory Best is thrilled at being handed a starting berth in their World Cup practice match against French club side Bayonne on Thursday.
Eddie O'Sullivan has made 12 changes from the side beaten by Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, as he checks out his options ahead of the World Cup next month.
Best joins Marcus Horan and John Hayes in the front row to face Bayonne, with Donncha O'Callaghan, Simon Easterby and Denis Leamy completing the forwards.
"I'm delighted to finally get on the park and play a game," said Best.
"It's been a good week, after being named in the World Cup squad and now getting the chance to move up and play my first game.
"We have moved on from all our fitness work in the pre-season and the last couple of weeks have seen us sharpen up on our ball skills and team patterns.
"I know I need to put all of that together on the park, so tomorrow night should be a tough game and allow us to get that important first match under our belts.
"The training here (Capbreton) has been great and I think we have all raised the bar another level.
"The guys who did not play last week are also eager to get a game, so we are looking forward to it."
David Wallace (ankle) and Simon Best (back spasm) both underwent fitness sessions as they look to get over their problems to prepare for the World Cup.
O'Sullivan is glad to have the match on the schedule, as it give him the opportunity to look at several options in a game situation.
"The other players in the squad need game time and this match gives us that opportunity," said O'Sullivan.
"You cannot replicate the same levels of intensity and physicality in training as you can in a match, so Thursday night will be vital for their preparation.
"This will be a full-on match and will give the team the levels of contact we need.
"The new faces in the team have really been chomping at the bit to get a game and it will be a step up for them as they come out of their pre-season, but it is something that they need."
Ireland team for World Cup warm-up: Dempsey Trimble, O'Driscoll (capt), D'Arcy, Hickie; O'Gara, Stringer; Horan, R Best, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, Easterby, N Best, Leamy.