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Ireland Boosted by Best Fitness

Key hooker passed fit for quarter final clash

Posted Oct 06, 2011 by Chris White

Ireland versus Wales is normally a fierce encounter

Ireland have named Rory Best in their starting line-up after the hooker proved his fitness, meaning the Irish can send out an unchanged team to face Wales in their World Cup quarter final on Saturday.

Best injured his shoulder in the 36-6 win against Italy in the final Pool C fixture and the AC joint has responded well to treatment. Sean Cronin was put on standby to come into the team if Best wasn’t fit to play, but he now takes up a place on the bench.

Coach Declan Kidney had to name his team 48 hours prior to kick-off and Best was his only injury concern approaching the match but the hooker was given every chance to prove his fitness, training well with the side on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The remainder of the Irish team has been announced for the clash against their Six Nations rivals, with Ronan O’Gara and Conor Murray retaining their half-back positions ahead of Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan respectively.

Ireland have the edge over Wales in recent times, winning nine of the past twelve fixtures between the two, although it was the Welsh who won the most recent clash in a controversial 19-13 win at the Millennium Stadium in the Six Nations with Wales appearing to score the crucial try with the wrong ball.

The Welsh, meanwhile, have recalled the fit again Dan Lydiate and Shane Williams in place of Ryan Jones and Scott Williams.

James Hook is named among the substitutes after his injury layoff, meaning there is no place in the match day squad for Stephen Jones, with Rhys Priestland continuing at fly-half.

Who do you think will make it through to the semi-finals? Have your say here.

Ireland Starting Line-Up: 15 Kearney, 14 Bowe, 13 O’Driscoll (c), 12 D’Arcy, 11 Earls, 10 O’Gara, 9 Murray; 1 Healy, 2 Best, 3 Ross, 4 O’Callaghan, 5 O’Connell, 6 Ferris, 7 O’Brien, 8 Heaslip. Replacements: Cronin, Court, Ryan, Leamy, Reddan, Sexton, Trimble.

Wales Starting Line-Up: 15 Halfpenny, 14 North, 13 J Davies, 12 Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Priestland, 9 Phillips; 1 Jenkins, 2 Bennett, 3 A Jones, 4 Charteris, 5 AW Jones, 6 Lydiate, 7 Warburton (C), 8 Faletau. Replacements: L Burns, P James, B Davies, R Jones, L Williams, J Hook, Scott Williams.

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